Album Review: Revolution Radio

WonkeyDude98
Mini-Description: In my thirty-second album review, I take a look at Green Day's solid comeback album, and how it could have been a lot better.

Best Songs: "Ordinary World", "Troubled Times", "Bang Bang", "Somewhere Now", "Say Goodbye", "Revolution Radio", "Bouncing Off the Wall
Worst Songs: "Youngblood", "Still Breathing"



6/10

When people eventually look back at the distinct career of Green Day...

They won't.

How do you analyze a band that's been around for over twice as long as I've been alive and that's taken so many shifts in style and quality, that already started out super difficult to criticize, being pop-punk at the very roots? Now, just because I acknowledge their legacy doesn't mean that I've had a solid foundation on what I actually think of Green Day. They started out in the early 90s making solid, occasionally fantastic pop-punk (especially Kerplunk!, which I was inches away from giving a perfect score). While they are indeed most known for the great and genre-defining (but also probably genre-killing) American Idiot, I have always preferred the more explosive, snarky, and high-concept 21st Century Breakdoewwn, seriously that album absolutely KILLS.

Then...everyone died.

I almost want to say I mean that literally, because to call 2012 an absolutely awful year for Green Day would be an understatement. They set the stage for the even less talented Rick Ross and Future and decided to release multiple albums in a year, which is known as the Spanish Trilogy. And if you remember that...you probably don't, and I don't blame you. Tré was awful, Uno was atrocious, and Dos...well, I don't place albums in my bottom 15 of all time for nothing, it really is an absolute abomination on music. And the worst part is that it wasn't really because these albums were badly written or horribly produced (though they indeed were), but because they were so bland. I don't remember the last time I heard something so soul-suckingly dull, boring, and derivative. It was something I thought Green Day could never recover from.

And yet, they decided that this year (last year lol) they would release yet another album that would be returning to their roots. Now, I was really skeptical of this, as the Trilogy came just before and wasn't really that far off from that, and even old Green Day was never really adventurous lyrically, always going for punch but never going for nuance. However, it couldn't be that bad, I like Green Day. So was it that bad?

Uhhh...no. No it wasn't that bad. But at the same time, even with lowered expectations this disappointed me. I was at least hoping for a listen that was good, but instead I just got one that was okay, solid but nothing spectacular whatsoever. It shows Green Day returning to form, but not in a way we haven't seen before.

And yeah some of that can be placed on Billie Joe Armstrong himself. Now, to be fair, he's still a strong vocalist. He has massive volume, a ton of personality, and an anxious energy that is unmatched. But he's lost his edge, he doesn't have as much firepower or gravitas as he used to. The sad fact is that his voice hasn't withered enough to hide his most nasal, overenunciated tendencies that dropped American Idiot from fantastic to just great for me, and the autotune on songs like Still Breathing is absolutely unnecessary. As such, he's in an awkward middle ground that can only really be fully enjoyed if you haven't listened to much Green Day before. He's alright, but far from his prime.

That said...I do like a lot of the instrumentation on this album. One thing I've always loved about Green Day is their ability to keep an aggressive pace going without sacrificing the guts or the groove of their songs. The place where this is most apparent on this album is the gritty, scratching and slamming drums countering some of the bleaker riffs on Say Goodbye, a song that really doesn't sound like much the band's ever done before.

And the rest of the album...well, it tries. I do like the acoustics (as much as I wish the resolving chord was literally one half-step higher) that build to some of the more *ahem* "heavenly" fluttering distortion on Somewhere Now, the throttling mayhem of Bang Bang (that little segment starting 2 minutes in is especially
awesome) the slightly more derivative but nonetheless awesome title track, the bellowing riff opening Outlaws as it becomes melancholy low acoustics, the manic off-the-pan crunch of the full-on party song Bouncing Off the Wall, the fast-paced sprint of Too Dumb to Die, and the dark riffs and faded falsetto vocals on Troubled Times are all awesome examples of Green Day returning to form.

(I did not mention Ordinary World, but trust me I will)

But you know what I don't like? The lazy triple copypaste on Forever Now (especially of Somewhere Now), the plastic, gutless mush that is Still Breathing, and worst of all the awful cymbal saturation and obnoxious riffs plastered all over Youngblood. The latter two songs sound like they came right off of Dos, and the fact that they're back-to-back makes it even worse.

But you know what? That can all be pushed aside as nitpicks compared to my real issue with this album: the production and dynamics. Who's bright idea was it to make the acoustic sections so quiet and badly mixed, only to randomly burst into huge grungy riffs and drums. It's all over this album, even on the songs that I like. Somewhere Now, Bang Bang (to an extent), Outlaws (where it's probably most egregious), Still Breathing, Forever Now, why does the band think that style sounds GOOD?

But okay, what about the lyrics? Well...Green Day. Ugh, I hate talking about pop-punk/emo lyrics because god forbid I get something wrong/don't get the deeper meaning of something and then someone goes on an essay-long rampage about how I'm wrong: believe me, I've seen it, I've even done it on a few occasions (totally doesn't glance at twenty-øne piløts).

But the thing is...I don't really know what Green Day are trying to do here. Songs like Say Goodbye and Troubled Times seem to reference a certain man winning a certain election dooming a certain country as well as a certain entire planet, while Bang Bang (one of the best written songs on the album) is about mass shooters (primarily school shooters) and their thirst for fame that they'll never live to, among many, many other subjects, all while tying it back to Billie Joe's own internal struggles, but they try to hit as many targets as possible that it feels like Armstrong is just a random teen screaming about as many of the world's problems as he can in order to make his own problems look credible.

But really, the larger issue isn't the lack of cohesion but more that Green Day has issues giving all of these songs unique detail or even a whole lot of personality besides the three songs previously mentioned. The two worst examples of this are also the two worst songs on the album period by a mile. The first is the utterly insufferable Still Breathing, which is trying to be Wake Me Up When September Ends again but utterly fails. Forgetting the lack of a compelling narrative or the congested overwriting that plagues a lot of the album, the similes make it seem like he isn't what he says he's like, even though he IS ("I'm like a junkie tying off for the last time", "I'm like a son that was raised without a father").

But easily the worst example of these lyrics is on Youngblood, which I like to describe as Nightlife Part 2, with its lyrics about how this girl Armstrong is talking about is single but sober, how she's...Cherry Cola...how...she's from Oakland....UGH JUST GET THIS NONSENSE OUT OF MY FACE

That being said...with how much I had to say against the album's lyrics, one song redeems it all: Ordinary World. A stripped-back acoustic song with no instrumental switchups, it's a song about if Green Day hypothetically never got involved, if they weren't identified now as aged punks but normal people, and it's so much more personal and detailed than the rest of the album by a mile, but it also raises the rest of it up by a lot by giving it a scope of "hey, this is how we think we are, but imagine if we didn't do any of this stuff." It's honest and borderline tearjerking.

This album is alright. Other than Ordinary World, this album is pretty much held together by cheap glue, and if not for that song this would be rated a LOT lower. This is a fun listen and good a comeback as any, but I'm frustrated that Green Day didn't take more risks here. But hey, a step up and it's promising, so solid 6/10 and a recommendation. Non-fans will hate it, Fans will either like or love it, everyone else...check it out if you're interested, but only so.

This is WonkeyDude98, and I only have one more review, a few relistens, two RYM lists, and then I'M FINALLY DONE WITH 2016...oh. It's OneRepublic. You wonder why I finish these reviews at a snail's pace. Well, I'll see you before this summer ends, at least.

Comments

From all I've heard on YouTube -
Best Tracks - Troubled Times, Ordinary World
Worst Track - Still Breathing - PhenomentalOne

Good review. - ProPanda

Thumbs up - Skullkid755

Why are there 2 Donald Trump diss tracks on the album, Andrew? - Teravolt1422

Because it's Green Day.

TL;DR, the two diss tracks are Say Goodbye and Troubled Times, the two of which are probably in my top three from the album. - WonkeyDude98

Forgettable album mostly. I like Green Day but I don't get the enjoyment from their newer albums like I did with some of their 90s works. I most definitely would prefer to listen to Nimrod and Insomniac over this. So it's more a 4/10 for me honestly. - cjWriter1997

My thoughts by the way

Best Track: Say Goodbye
HMs: Still Breathing, Ordinary World, Bang Bang, Too Dumb To Die
Worst Track: Youngblood
DHMs: Troubled Times (I don't know, it's just mediocre), Forever Now (per TT)

9/10 - ProPanda

Forever Now is basically Jesus of Suburbia except not good. - WonkeyDude98

Tyga is better - Ub8

Are you even human? - PhenomentalOne

Still Breathing was good - visitor

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