Revolution Radio marks Green Day’s 12th studio album, and the follow-up to their ‘experimental’ trilogy albums Uno!, Dos! and Tre!. Throughout the years Green Day’s sound has changed with each album, as is expected, but Revolution Radio does have the characteristics and sound of a Green Day album. Particular highlights of the album include Bang Bang, Forever Now, and Too Dumb to Die.
Album opener Somewhere Now is a soft and modest introduction as Green Day introductions go, particularly when compared to other album openers such as American Idiot and Burnout from Dookie. It’s almost surprising at first but once the song kicks in you can be certain that you are listening to the definitive sounds of Green Day, particularly with lyrics such as “I put the riot in patriot”.
Bang Bang and Revolution Radio follow Somewhere Now, having both been debuted prior to the album’s release. Bang Bang was inspired by America’s increasing gun culture, and is from the perspective of a mass shooter. The lyrics are clever with lines such as “I wanna be a celebrity martyr, The leading man in my own private drama, The hero of the hour” to reference the media’s reaction to mass shooters, and the word ‘photobomb’ to reference both a social media phenomenon and violence. It’s risky, but a very current song.
Revolution Radio, on the other hand, is incredibly radio friendly with its imperatively catchy chorus, and similar themes of the media and social media. It has the customary guitar riffs, and a familiar Mike Dirnt bassline. The track was supposedly inspired by a Black Lives Matter protest which Billie Joe Armstrong abandoned his car to join in New York.
Say Goodbye and Outlaws are both a far cry from Green Day’s punk style, but shows Green Day stepping out of their comfort zone, whilst ‘Bouncing Off the Walls’ could easily feature on a Foxboro Hot Tubs’ album, Green Day’s side project, due to its garage-rock style.
The third song we were treated to prior to the release of the album was Still Breathing, and details the personal troubles Armstrong faced back in 2012. Despite claims Armstrong wanted to destroy the term ‘pop-punk’, Still Breathing is a classic example of the genre. Despite auto-tune working overtime on Armstrong’s voice, it tears at your heartstrings with emotional lyrics such as “I’m like a son that was raised without a father, I’m like a mother barely keeping it together” in reference to the death of his father, and also his voice almost cracking up when he sings “I’m still alive”.
Youngblood combines immaturity, such as the rhyming of “Cherry Cola” with “Minnesota”, with a Beatle-esque maturity. Too Dumb to Die on the other hand, has nods of early Green Day musically, back in the Dookie era, but with combinations of American Idiot topics with lyrics such as “Looking for a cause, Well all I got was Santa Claus”. This is closely followed by Troubled Times, an extremely dark song, that utilizes heavy guitar chords to represent civil unrest, and sums up America’s situation succinctly with the main chorus line “We live in troubled times”.
Forever Now is the longest track on the album, landing in at 7 minutes. It’s an intense penultimate song, but has a strong quality like that of Letterbomb or Jesus of Suburbia. The stand-out lyrics are: “I wanna start a revolution, I wanna hear it on my radio, And put it off another day”; a reference to ‘slacktivism’ perhaps, those who sign petitions online and therefore feel they’ve done enough, but aren’t prepared to leave the house and physically attempt to change society.
The last song is Ordinary World, taken from the upcoming film of the same name, starring Billie Joe Armstrong as, essentially, himself. Its positioning on the album feels somewhat like a bonus track, not necessarily a bad thing, but does give the perception it is lumped on the album for promotional purposes.
With history seemingly repeating itself with a controversial US election on the horizon, many were hopeful for a ‘second’ American Idiot concept album. Revolution Radio is still predominately political, incorporating sensitive and controversial topics, open for equivocal debates, but is perhaps less provocative than the commercial success that was American Idiot. Reaching Number One in its first week in the charts however…Green Day are back on track.