Released: May 15, 2009
Genre: Rock, Pop Punk
Number Of Tracks: 18 (20 on Comcast exclusive releases)
Green Day ventures into the world of rock operas with 21st Century Breakdown, a scrutinizing look at the post-Bush world..
21st Century Breakdown
UG Team, on november 12, 2012 34 of 41 people found this review helpful
Sound: Five years after Green Da made its politically charged musical mark on society with American Idiot, the band once known as merely a pop-punk outfit has released an album that could possibly make an even bigger impression. Following more of a rock opera format (don't get too worried yet), 21st Century Breakdown shows a grander and more eclectic side of Green Day that does give the effect that you could be watching/listening to a stage show. The story revolves around a young couple in love (Christian and Gloria) who are coping with life in you guessed it the post-Bush world. As preachy as things could get during a reflection of America's less-than-ideal current situation, Green Day still is able to keep the overall feel of 21st Century Breakdown quite personal. That approach even means that you'll hear Billie Joe Armstrong croon a love song or two.
21st Century Breakdown is the first Green Day record produced by Garbage drummer Butch Vig (the man also behind such legendary works as Nevermind and Siamese Dream), and that fact alone has created a buzz. While it might not be masterful or musically groundbreaking as Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins' past works, 21st Century Breakdown does show an incredible amount of depth for Green Day. The band immediately creates a mood of nostalgia with Song of the Century, which is essentially Armstrong's singing in an old-fashioned-melody-manner (enhanced by the scratchy LP-style effect added to the track). The picturesque, vintage vibe is quickly overhauled by Green Day 2009, perfectly represented in the title track 21st Century Breakdown. That particular song begins the trip through contemporary society's hell and is undoubtedly the most politically fueled track among the bunch. Musically it features a solid pop-rock vibe and Green Day's trademark harmonies, with a few moments delivering a somewhat militaristic approach to the drums. It's actually surprising that the band didn't save 21st Century Breakdown for the closing tune, as it's easily the grandest, epic track on the album.
There is a good deal of Green Day's pop-punk style that pops up on the record (namely Christians Inferno, The Static Age, and Murder City,), but the band isn't afraid to slow things down several times throughout the course of the listening experience. Piano parts abound, with Viva La Gloria and Last Night On Earth among the most impressive and emotionally driven. While Viva La Gloria eventually morphs into a fairly straightforward rock number, Last Night On Earth is unabashedly a ballad through and through. At times you get an Elton John feel about it, and by the end you'll even hear a touch of The Beatles.
The most refreshing moments come when Green Day strays from its usual pop punk formula. Peacemaker almost feels like it has a bit of a Spanish flair underneath all of the distortion, while Restless Heart Syndrome contains an amazing guitar solo in the vein of Radiohead or Muse. Horseshoes and Handgrenades may remind some of you of The Hives a little too much, but that track takes the energy level up tenfold. Of course, for all of the creativity you'll find on the album, it will likely be the most traditionally written tracks that garner the most attention and there are quite a few infectiously catchy tunes. Best bet? Know Your Enemy (and its sing-along chorus) should expect airplay galore in the coming months. // 9
Lyrics: Because Green Day opted to try for more of a rock opera approach to the record, there does seem to be more of a thoughtful approach to the entire process. Because much of the lyrical content is meant to be directly spoken between the two primary characters, it's an entirely different setup than, say, Dookie. While 21st Century Breakdown scrutinizes the state of today's society (I was made of poison and blood; Combination is what I understood; From Mexico to the Berlin Wall; Homeland security could kill us all; My generation is zero), you also have the most heartfelt love songs that Green Day has ever produced. Last Night On Earth works as an ideal theatrical love scene with such lyrics as, My beating heart belongs to you; I walked for miles till I found you; I'm here to honor you. The turn toward the serious may have old school Green Day fans left a little bit annoyed, but it's hard to deny that all of the themes do work together effectively. // 9
Overall Impression: Apparently Green Day was heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, and Queen while making 21st Century Breakdown, and elements of each of those acts come through. There is a grandness that you might find in a Freddie Mercury track, the politically driven nature is a nod to The Clash, and the main characters' dialogue was certainly inspired by Born To Run. With 18 very unique, independent songs divided into three Acts, it's all a lot to take in and may not be for everyone out there. That being said, Green Day has reached beyond their usual arsenal of rock tunes on 21st Century Breakdown. The styles do jump quite sporadically, but you can rest assured that there are still several memorable rock songs that should keep Green Day a household name in rock. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
J C, on november 12, 2012 14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Sound: I want to begin this review by saying that I've been a fan of Green Day for a long while, however my opinions on their evolving style of music have changed with the times. I began my Green Day experience at the age of 9, when I purchased the album Warning. Needless to say it stayed in my CD player for a long time. From there I slowly started to trawl back to their older material, and was subsequently completely swept up by the hype surrounding American Idiot in 2004. At this stage I had moved away from my first taste of the band, and favoured their take on the punk opera politics of the early 21st century.
With the benefit of hindsight on my side, it wasn't long before I realised there was better music to be found, and left most of Green Day's material behind. Recently, I dug out Warning again and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the album. It remains my favourite installment in the Green Day discography, despite its meagre sales in comparision to their other efforts. It was experimental, a little different, and it worked.
Now here we are in 2009, and Green Day have released another album of material, called 21st Century Breakdown. Despite my relative lack of interest in the modern version of the band, I'd been following the press releases regarding the new record out of curiosity, and my first impressions had not been great. Another rock opera, which Billie Joe Armstrong had touted as a "step forward". Eighteen tracks of material, a hugely overblown list of songs. Album art reeking of cliche and close resemblence to the work of artist Bansky. A first taste of the lead single, which used the same three words for the vast majority of the song. So needless to say, I had to force myself to listen to the album, mainly to see if there was anything left of the old Green Day that managed to capture me back in the year 2000.
I can gladly say that I was pleasantly surprised.
My opinions of American Idiot are that of an album with ambitions, but blinded by its own pretentiousness and consumerist rebel attitude. Thankfully, 21st Century Breakdown avoids most of the pitfalls of its predecessor, producing a much more mature, diverse sound that clearly knows the line between seriousness and wankery. We are introduced to the album through the radio frequencied "Song of the Century", before moving into the wonderfully structured, classic rock inspired title track. Coming up next is the lead single, "Know Your Enemy", which benefits greatly from its context within the album. What follows is a loose three act structure, describing a various periods and events in the lives of two lovers named Christian and Gloria.
Sound-wise, the production by Butch Vig on the album is very precise. The typical Billie Joe guitar tone is still present, and the band sounds incredibly tight. The only gripe I have with the album's sound comes from the mixing of the vocals, which not quite as crisp as they could be, tending to blend into the mix slightly at times. The "telephone" effect is probably overused to the point of being gimmicky, but manages to fit within the album without being too obvious. // 9
Lyrics: Lyrically, on the whole the album is quite solid. The occasional line, such as "I once was lost but never was found" and "falling through broken glass that's slashing through your spirit" touch close to cliche and awkward wordplay, but lines such as the inspiring couplet "I just want to see the light / I don't want to lose my sight" redeem the occasional lapse in judgement. The lyrics don't form a plot in the same ideal that American Idiot pursued, rather, they work together to fit around the central concept of the relationship between Gloria and Christian, creating fragments of a whole for the listener to interpret rather than a clearly defined start and finish. // 8
Overall Impression: However, my biggest issue with the album comes from the length of the disc, as running time is around 70 minutes. Despite the overall enjoyment I received from the album, it wasn't quite enough to distract me from imposing playing time while listening, and managed to take away from the overall experience. There's this thing called a cutting room, please use the floor next time, guys. Keep in mind that there are no bad songs per se, however some are definitely stronger than others. "Before the Lobotomy" begins promisingly, before entering a stilted attempt at a 7/8 time signature. "21 Guns" is a paint by numbers rock ballad, the power of the lyrics never quite managing to overcome the fact that the song has been heard hundreds of times before. "The Static Age" is probably the closest the album has to a filler track, and ultimately fails to convey any sort of clear meaning or emotion.
Overall though, the album is a large success. Top tracks include "Christian's Inferno", a frantic, lyrically spat punk tune; catchy single potential "Last of the American Girls"; and the inspiring final track "See the Light". For the obligatory sexist metaphor, 21st Century Breakdown is the older, more attractive sister of American Idiot that stands a foot taller than you do. This album comes with a reccomendation, 8.5/10.
(I wrote this review as a whole piece, rather than it being divided into sections. I hope you guys enjoy it anyway.) // 9
21st Century Breakdown
Shard Heilia, on november 12, 2012 11 of 40 people found this review helpful
Sound: I've just listened to 21st Century Breakdown on MTV's streaming party. This album altogether doesn't seem as strong as their previous albums. There's some strong tracks on the album, but overall the album seems to be lacking something in my mind. The storyline isn't as clear as the storyline to American Idiot, and the style is yet another epic venture for Green Day. The quality of the mix is solid, however, and the irritating underpowered vocals that plagued the demos are no more. The more solid sounding songs seem to be the piano ballad songs rather than the power-punk songs. All and all, the album wasn't as disappointing as it could've been, but it wasn't as amazing as it could've been either. // 7
Lyrics: This is the weakest part of the album in my opinion. The lyrics seemed...just plain stupid at some points.
'Do you know the enemy?
Do you know your enemy?
Well, gotta know the enemy'
One such example of dull, repetitive lyrics.
'I don't want to live in the modern world
I don't want to live in the modern world
I don't want to live in the modern world'
That being another from the song American Eulogy.
All in all, it seems like they're milking the politics a little more than I'd like. Billie Joe's vocals are as strong as ever, but his lyrics left a little to be desired. // 5
Overall Impression: All in all, 21st Century Breakdown is one of Green Day' weaker albums. There are some strong songs on the album, my favorites being Before The Lobotomy, East Jesus Nowhere, Restless Heart Syndrome, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades. I love the sound of most of the songs, especially the softer piano ballads, but the lyrics seemed extremely forced and weak to me. Hopefully Green Day will continue to put out amazing live shows to compensate. If it was lost, I probably wouldn't bother too much about it, especially if I still had those four songs. // 7
21st Century Breakdown
lao123, on november 12, 2012 5 of 19 people found this review helpful
Sound: This is Green Day's best album ever. I was skeptical, but this far out does Dookie. It takes the essence of American Idiot, and takes it what you would imagine for they're tenth album. It is hard hitting, alt-punk.
This album is about a couple ,(Christian and Gloria), and them dealing with the mess of the 21st Century. There are 18 songs, and 2 bonus tracks on the iTunes deluxe edition.
Billie Joe uses a lot more piano than ever, and it works amazingly. Heavy guitars, really good use of orchestra, and really good singing. My favourite songs would have to be Viva La Gloria!, Before the Lobotomy, The Static Age, American Eulogy, and Murder City. All the songs are amazing, but these are the best IMO. // 10
Lyrics: Some of my favourite lyrics ever. Not straight foward and borign, not confusing metaphors, but straight foward and awesome. They really outdid themselves in this department. They match the music perfectly. In this album Billie Joe sings the best he ever has, and as well as a few well placed screamos.
These are great to sing along to, as well as pretend to play the drums at the same time. // 10
Overall Impression: This is the best album I have ever heard. And I'm not exaggerating, even though it isn't as punk as Dookie, it is SO much better. This probably seems like one of those uncritical reviews, but I don't think this album could even get a negative review. I am more a fan of old school My Chemical Romance, which is quite differnt, but this should please anyone who likes rock music. As I said before, my favourite songs would have to be Viva La Gloria!, Before the Lobotomy, The Static Age, American Eulogy, and Murder City.
I don't hate anything about this album, apart from the CD doesn't some with the bonus tracks, so I had to get those off iTunes. If this were stolen, I would buy it again within the hour, and torture whoever took it (you get what I mean...)
This album is and obvious 10 overall. It's just so amazing. I recommend everyone to go to their nearest music store and buy it straight away! // 10
21st Century Breakdown
amacno2, on november 12, 2012 5 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Wow. Just wow. Our snot-nosed punk rockers have really grown up. The sound on this album is anything but 3 chords. Here's a breakdown (pardon the pun.)
01.Song of the Century: part of the spoiler on the website, a great opener and over static which will be a big theme in the album... not really a song but cool anyway
02.21st Century Breakdown: epic, introduces the thread of trying to recover from Bush and the class of '13... amazing song (side note- pre-chorus refers to working class hero which they covered for amnesty international) 5/5
03.Know Your Enemy: the first single, very driving beat, catchy, but a little repetative. Also, a first that I've heard is a scream on "gimme gimme revolution!" which was pretty cool, nice video as well 5/5
04.Viva La Gloria!: introduces Gloria, an optomistic girl trying to make her way in the 21st century, a ballad with keyboards turns into a full blown rocker on the chorus 5/5
05.Before The Lobotomy: begins with acoustic guitar and goes into a harder edge song 5/5, also introduces the "eulogy"
06.Christian's Inferno: one of the most punky songs on the album, portrays Christian, Gloria's boyfriend as a quick-tempered idealist who believes he can make it. Very cool song, 5/5
07.Last Night On Earth: wow. This is the change I was talking about. Full blown piano ballad all the way through. Basically a love ballad to Gloria saying "if I loose everything in the fire, I'm giving all my love to you." I'm not crazy about this one but it's still good 3.5/5
08.East Jesus Nowhere: very anti-religious, could be compared to Holiday from American Idiot. Cool riff and I love it. 5/5
09.Peacemaker: one of my favorites on the album, sounds spanish-influenced, I believe there is a reference to the big 3 disaster "I am a kill joy from detroit I drink from a well of rage" 5/5
10.Last of the American Girls: very basic song, talks about Gloria being an old school girl stereotypical girl, okay sound 4/5
11.Murder City: another punky song, discusses riots and city life, Christian apparently has a meltdown and looses faith another basic song, 4/5
12.Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl): this is gloria's "breakdown", it appears they have lost they're home and living on the streets now. Sounds very much like Misery from Warning so this only gets 4/5
13.Restless Heart Syndrome: another ballad type song, pretty good, refers to "the enemy" and healthcare problems, I like it 5/5
14.Horseshoes and Handgrenades: amazing song - deffinatly my favorite from the opening line to the last note charges this album up sevenfold with it's Hives like riffs and parantal advisary warning best song they ever wrote infinity/5
15.Static Age: closest to a filler this album has, didn't really get my attention, maybe because the chorus is a re-write of Church on Sunday from Warning. Okay, but the worst on this album, I think it is in here to continue the "static" theme 2/5
16.21 Guns: a very close 2nd place - chorus sounds like All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople, very catchy, talks about the war and army and if we really should be fighting it 10000000000000/5
17.American Eulogy: begins w/ Song of the Century, I think this is supposed to be the Jesus of Suburbia of this album, I do like most parts of it but the choruses of the two parts are 2 and 8 words. C'mon guys you can do better than that. And I do like that mike sings the verses on Modern World, sounds very old school punk. Also this is the "eulogy" a few of the previous songs were talking about 3.5/5 for the lyrics on the chorus
18.See The Light: gives hope at the end of the album, begins w/ the same intro as 21st Century Breakdown at a different tempo, also reminds me of some other song. But pretty cool anyway 4.5/5 // 10
Lyrics: Cool mostly, very repetitive in some spots (know your enemy, american eulogy), I do like all the hidden meanings and collective theme of the album. The themes I caught were "Static" and "The Eulogy." At least as good as American Idiot, if not (Dare I say it) better. Billie Joe sounds as strong as ever, and the lyrics fit in perfectly with the music. // 9
Overall Impression: Amazing! The pulled off a pete townshend like no other band could. Best songs are Horseshoes and Hangrenades, 21 Guns, Peacemaker, Know Your Enemy, 21st Century Breakdown, East Jesus Nowhere and Christian's Inferno (not really in that order), pretty much the whole album is the best songs. If my CPU crashes I would first throw it away, get a new 1, and then buy this album on it. Incredible! // 10
21st Century Breakdown
MCRkid22, on november 12, 2012 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: From the iconic 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours to the now rock-operatic 21st Century Breakdown, Billie Joe and the gang have always written everything from beautiful ballads to all out punk thrashers while remaining listener-friendly, and fan base faithful. After the subtle disappointment of 2001's American Idiot, Green Day have learned from their mistakes, and instead of making an album for the charts, they went all out. 21st Century Breakdown takes everything for it's musical arsenal, and grabs you from the first track to the last. It's fair to say that this is one of Green Day's best achievements since their album, "Dookie". One of the best parts of the album is that it features 18 solid songs, in a world where 10 songs can be considered worth 24 bucks.
The news of this being another Concept Album / Rock Opera has scared away some fans, but never fear, the story stays solid, and there's enough filler to make it feel like it's not being driven by the story itself. // 7
Lyrics: Green Day have never been strangers to angst-ridden punk, and so here they strike again, with some chart-worthy singles galore, very diverse in style and genre, as well as solid with Green Day's signature sound.
01.Song of the Century: the intro to 21st Century Breakdown does anything but disappoint, acting as a ride on a roller coaster, getting ready to throw you down the steep drop into the rest of the album. The song features some solo singing by Billie with an authentic forties-single feel, complete with scratching '45 needle, and distorted cracks and hisses. Quite an interesting song in terms of melody.
02.21st Century Breakdown: the album's title-track opens up with some bouncy piano, into classic rock-opera vocals, launching into classic Green Day. The vocal harmonies in this song are fantastic, and the driving guitar slides keep it groovy. It's got traces of the American Idiot sound, but it also has pleasant roots in something you might have heard in Nimrod.
03.Know Your Enemy: the albums first single is, as expected, completely overplayed. That is, of course, not to say that it is a bad song. Know Your Enemy is definitely American Idiot inspired. A solid drum beat keeps the song interesting, but the monotonous guitar and lack of distinguishable lyrics leaves you bored after the first minute. I'm trying to be unbiased, but with all the radio play, it's extremely hard to keep appreciating this song.
04.Viva La Gloria!: if you're having a hard time keeping track of the album's supposed story, don't worry. The story revolves around two characters; Christian and Gloria. The song itself starts out with some arpeggiated piano chords, followed by Billie Joe crooning some deep lyrics. The song begins orchestral in nature, with strings and timpanis galore, but quickly kicks in the door with some catchy power chords, and finishes strong in classic Green Day fashion.
05.Before The Lobotomy: Before the Lobotomy is a good song, but the fact that it sounds familiar totally throws me off. I like it, but I can't shake the feeling that I've heard it before. The song starts off with some smooth "pretty" guitar, going into some interesting guitar parts. We're starting to notice some diversity in the album at this point.
06.Christian's Inferno: finally, we meet the second character in this subtle story, Christian. This track is different in the fact that it can't seem to decide what it wants to sound like, which is a positive thing. At times, it's in a minor key with Billie yelling Holiday-style, with an overlay of a megaphone effect. The chorus itself is a catchy sing-along style chorus in a major key, ending with pronounced laugh tracks by Billie.
07.Last Night On Earth: I personally love this track, but I doubt others will feel the same. It's the closest thing to a love song we have on this album, and it's slow and pretty. A common chord progression leads this song with a driving piano and a backing guitar, complete with delay effects, and lots of reverb. That's not to say it's uninventive, although technically speaking it is, but it's also quite an interesting track. If you didn't like Good Riddance, skip this track.
08.East Jesus Nowhere: East Jesus Nowhere begins with some guitar reminiscent of Wolfmother (although that point is debatable). Catchy guitar rakes drive the cadence-style track and give it an extra bounce, while the vocals are mixed low. It actually sounds quite a bit like Welcome to Paradise, which is nice, because I know we all missed that sound.
09.Peacemaker: this is my all time favorite track off this album. It's a very catchy 4/4 with a walking bass line, and almost an Italian feel to it, sort of like Hitching a Ride without all the staccato drum beats. It's an easy song with some James Bond-esque guitar, but it never fails to captivate, and the vocals really bring this song together, showcasing insane harmonies.
10.Last of the American Girls: I think this is the first time Green Day has used a drum machine. Last of the American Girls (or LAG, as I will refer to it) is an interesting track, mixing old Green Day (say, "She" for instance) with American Idiot. It's like they took She and She's a Rebel, and combined the two. The result is a catchy sing-along track, and I can almost guarantee it will be a single.
11.Murder City: Murder City does not, by any means, sound like Green Day, but strangely, this isn't at all a major problem. The song itself is a speedy 4/4, with some a catchy chorus showcasing Green Day's new found love of dual-vocals. It's a pretty good track, definitely a single at one time or another, because it's very radio friendly, which is not to suggest it's bad, just accessible.
12.Viva La Gloria?: the track begins with some nice piano trills alongside a catchy bass line, and immediately goes into this bouncy track, another Italian-style waltz track. Billie sings solo for a while, then the guitars kick in. Despite my user name (yes, I know, I can't exactly change it) I'm sorry to say it bears resemblance to Mother by My Chemical Romance (I know, I know!!! I promise, I'm over my MCR phase, I promise!).
13.Restless Heart Syndrome: perhaps I wasn't being entirely truthful when I said that Last Night on Earth was the only ballad on the CD. Restless Heart Syndrome opens with piano and strings, and adds on some strummed steel strings and eventually drops some drums. It's slow and pretty and melodic, and definitely an epic song, depending on your perspective of the word, "epic".
14.Horseshoes and Hand Grenades: this one is an incredible track, highly reminiscent of old Green Day, and keeps a march/cadence feel throughout the whole thing. It's angry, it's punk, and it's fantastic.
15.The Static Age: could've done with or without this track to be completely honest. It's nice, but it's nothing really notable. It doesn't seem to go with the rest of this album. However, I will give it credit for keeping with the old Green Day style.
16.21 Guns: 21 Guns is one of this albums best songs. It's ballad-like, but it's also very neo-political and, dare I say it, angsty. The chorus is fantastic. I almost wish this were the last track on the album, solely for the fact that it sounds like it could be.
17.American Eulogy: American Eulogy reprises Song of the Century before launching into complete chaos, going into a very driving song on the album. It sounds like a midway song between Shenanigans and American Idiot, which remains a good thing. It's a little more theatrical than the other songs, using heavy drum 'verb, and heavy political lyrics, sounding almost like Homecoming the way it constantly changes.
18.See the Light: so here we are, the final track of the album, and so far, it's been a pretty damn good trip, and See the Light in no way ruins it. If you picture this album as a roller coaster, See the Light is where you get off and look back at the ride itself, realizing that it was good, and you'd do it again if you felt like it. It has a very distinct feel to it, and you may like it, you may hate it. // 8
Overall Impression: Considering all the other albums that got released this year, including the fateful introduction to "Lady Gaga", this album went pretty well. I know I anticipated it, and I was not at all dissapointed, however I was pleasantly surprised. They took all the good things from American Idiot, and incorperated it with formulas that they knew worked well, and the end result is a fairly good album. It's not their best, by far, as Mike has been quoted saying, but it's definitely up there as one of their best, and hopefully they won't stop here. If this is any indication, they're just getting started! // 8
21st Century Breakdown
KidfromMars, on november 12, 2012 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: After the multi platinum sucess of 'American Idiot', Green Day where always going to have a hard time finding something to top it. 5 years later they are back, with the epic 3 act, almost concept album 21st Century Breakdown.
Green Day go all out on this record, with a sound ranging from furious punk guitars on the likes of Know your Enemy, to the sweet piano balladry of the begining Viva La Gloria!.This is Coupled with full, fat and big production sheen from Butch Vig, not to mention the great rhytmn section of Dirnt and Cool who sound as solid as you would expect.
The Record transends many different elements of the rock time line, while the melody to the acoustic verse on Before The Lobotomy always feels like it's about to break into ABBA's 'The Winner takes it all'. It doesnt't, but is ridiculously close. The Beatles esq Last Night On Earth also shows the wide range of ifluences going off on this record.
This Record is basicaly big brash punk, Classic Rock and Power pop with some sweet falsetto moments highlighting Bille Joe Armstrongs ability to use his range more so than other Green Day Material, overall its sounds huge, when it comes out on CD, buy, put it in and blast it 11 for a great sounding rock record. // 8
Lyrics: The album features well executed Bittersweet Vocals, The Story of Christian and Gloria, mixing fury with love songs. Lyricaly this is one of Green Days Tightest albums lyricaly mature outings, Bille Joe shows his abilty to turn words and tell storys and spit rhetoric. // 8
Overall Impression: This is a very very good record, its big,its brash, it may be a tad pretentious, but its a huge sounding great record. Love Green Day or hate them, you cant aruge that there is no one better making this kind of mainstream modern rock at the moment, and that shows from this album. By no means is this album perfect, nowhere near, but for what it is it is easily one of the albums of the year, There is something missing from the album though however, it lacks a single point where the record explodes and reaches the height of everything it could be. The main fault of the album is that it constantly feels like its going somewhere though never gets there, 17 songs and it doesn't reach that one song, the hit that blows everything else away and is like wow and demands repeat listens, as an album its very good, but lacks that one song that blows you away, and makes you think you've listened to something historical or legendary rather than just a very good record. That one song is the difference between good and extraordinay. // 8
21st Century Breakdown
unregistered, on november 12, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'm one of the few punk fans these to admit that I really, truly enjoyed Green Day's last album, American Idiot. I really did. Theres been more hype around 21st Century Breakdown than the goddamned polio vaccine, so I had to check it out. Hell, this one's a sure-fire Grammy winner -- we've got a power-pop trio busting out a rock-opera-concept-album about how horrible the transition between the last American government and the new one is for the youth of today, all complete with some ugly cover art. Green Day's got the whole "critical acclaim" thing down to a science, and perhaps that's one of the album's biggest weaknesses.
Let's get one thing straight -- this isn't the Green Day you're used to. This isn't Dookie-Green-Day, Warning-Green-Day, or even American-Idiot-Green-Day, to say the least. What you'll find in this album is pure power-pop gold, not a riff of punk or grunge to be heard. I mean, at least American Idiot had "St. Jimmy" to remind us all that this was still Green Day, folks.
That being said, American Idiot is, without a doubt, one of the 2000s most influential recordings. Green Day was probably the only band at the time (or at least the only band with a mainstream record deal) to actually have the balls to give all of the US the finger. It was an amazing effort that, while it produced a lot of horrible "punk-esque" bands (here's looking at you MCR), it still gave us an edgy, dark album that was seriously missing from the mainstream at the time. Green Day's taken a 3 year break and is finally back with something that feels as if it should have come a year earlier -- Obama's in office, everything is sweet, right...?
Well, not according to Billie Joe and his two minions (oh sorry, "band members"). Life now sucks more than ever, but it's sugar coated in a nice, easy to digest package of power chords and drum rolls. But why? Why can't Green Day just be, you know, serious for once? Billie Joe (and I know you're reading this), please, for the sake of us all, produce the album that we all know you're capable of producing. We heard glimpses of greatness on "21st Century Breakdown" (the track), "East Jesus Nowhere", "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" and "Restless Heart Syndrome" (the string section? thats quality stuff). Unfortunately, the album is just so goddamned sweet and happy for the other 14 tracks. // 7
Lyrics: Billie Joe, once again, you're a gifted lyricist, but what you're saying doesn't quite match the music. There's some heavy stuff to be covered here, and it doesn't really work unless paired with the lyric book included with the cd. You talk about sodomizing dogs and such great fun stuff, but its really lost when I hear what you're playing on guitar, you know? // 7
Overall Impression: Green Day has not produced a godly album here. Hell, its not even as good as their magnum opus, American Idiot. If the trio had spent just a few more months on it, maybe cut down the number of tracks to 10 or 12, we would have a great album in our hands. Unfortunately, it hasnt quite given me the same feeling as American Idiot did. // 7
21st Century Breakdown
TheAdrienC, on november 12, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Green Day was one of the forerunners of the pop-punk era in the early nineties with The Offspring, etc. That embraced the use of power chords. Though power chords are very much relavent and common on this album, it's a bit more so. The guitar work, while still not a Hendrix or any "great" guitarist, was a bit better than a usual Green Day album. Solos were also a bit more impressive than what I'm used to from Green Day. Butch Vig did an excellent job as the producer for this, and each song is well put together and mixed. Something that intrigued me is the similarities between the first two songs and last two songs. The beginning of "American Eulogy" is basically "Song of the Century" with different lyrics, and "21st Century Breakdown" and "See the Light" have the same exact intros.
Overall though, the sound was well done on the record, which is to be expected from a band who has done this as long as Green Day. // 9
Lyrics: Billie Joe Armstrong is an exceptional songwriter. Probably one of the better lyricists in music today. Each song's lyrics are well written (as to be expected) and express some strong emotion, whether it's anger, depression, or love. Listening to this can make me feel the chaos and confusion that this album is trying to convey. There's a couple of parts that are redundant, such as the chorus for "Know Your Enemy". Some find it annoying, I actually find it fairly catchy. The lyrics match beautifully with the music, and compliments it very well. Billie Joe's vocals were better than I could have expected, showing everyone he can sing in falsetto. "21 Guns" is a beautiful example of how his voice has evolved since American Idiot. It's also good to hear Mike Dirnt sing a good bit of "American Eulogy", as he sang his vocals nicely as well. // 10
Overall Impression: By no means does it replace Dookie or Nimrod from my heart, but it was a step into the right direction after American Idiot. It is a very solid album and deserves the hype and sales it's been getting. The songs that caught my attention on this album are "21 Guns", "Before the Lobotomy", "Last of the American Girls", the title track "21st Century Breakdown", "Last Night on Earth", and "American Eulogy". My only complaint is that I was expecting Green Day to go back to their roots with a Nimrod/Dookie-ish album, and as good as this album is, it wasn't what I was expecting. But other than that, it is a great album that I would recommend to anyone who is into mainstream rock, pop-punk, alternative rock, etc. If my copy was lost, I'd definitely buy it again. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
mattant250, on november 12, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: If you've come here looking for a lot of Green Day's earlier work, you'll be bitterly disappointed. While in some songs (Christian's Inferno and Horseshoes and Handgrenades), there is a reminiscent sound of Dookie and Insomniac, Green Day have explored other avenues in this album, to produce a much more rounded album. I've read a review recently on this album, which mentioned there was a Coldplay-esque feel to the album, and I couldn't agree more. That was one of the first things I noticed in songs like !Viva la Goria! and Restless Heart Syndrome. In some songs, you can get a sort of Italian/Spanish/Mexican feel (Peacemaker and ?Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)). As ever, Bille Joe's vocals and guitar playing is of the highest standard, Mike's bass lines leave nothing to be desired and Tre's drumming is encapsulating. The album is divided into 3 acts, the best of which is definitely the 2nd (Charlatan's and Saints), because it flows very well, and that is when you really start to enjoy the album. // 9
Lyrics: 21st Century Breakdown, like American Idiot, is a story, and this time follows two characters, Christian and Gloria. While in American Idiot, it is quite obvious that there is a storyline progression, this album follows the story a lot less loosely and it does not seem to be as intense as its predecessor. For the first time ever, we see the variation in Billy Joe's voice, as he reaches the high notes in Last Night on Earth, returns to punk-like singing in Know Your Enemy and creates a unique ballad in 21 Guns. His singing is fantastic and complemented perfectly by Mike. However, in some tracks, i.e. Know Your Enemy, it is quite difficult to hear the lyrics, so this is obviously a down point. // 8
Overall Impression: Song of the Century: Nice little retro style opening, which is only about a minute long, and sets up the listener on a fantastic journey through the album. 8/10
ACT I - HEROES AND CONS
01.21st Century Breakdown: the title track does not disappoint. This is where we are first introduced to Christian. This song seems to be split into two parts and the whole song is so obviously and great stadium song, which is bound to get the crowd going. It's one of those songs which you just love to hum, and when it's in your head, it's infectious. 10/10
02.Know Your Enemy: this is the 1st single, and despite this, it's probably one of the songs on the album which is less complementary of the bands skills shown on the album. However, it's still a great song and very catchy. 9/10
03.Viva La Gloria!: begins with an arpeggio sequence at the start on the piano, but soon gets into the heavy part, and when it does it's excellent. 9/10
04.Before the Lobotomy: again, this song begins with a soft, quiet intro, however, this intro seems to be quite drawn out and you can lose interest before heavy part. The harmony on this track is fantastic and when you get into it, it is quite like something that could have been off Nimrod. 8/10
05.Christian's Inferno: for some reason, this track reminds me of Take Back off Nimrod, probably because it is quite punky and the verses are mostly spoken. Although it doesn't have the best verse ever, it is very catchy and merits a place on the album. 8/10
06.Last Night On Earth: I'm unsure about this one. It just seems very repetitive and doesn't seem to have any direction. It's one of the softer songs on the album, and not very like Green Day. Despite this it is still a decent song, and I give it a 7/10.
ACT II - CHARLATANS AND SAINTS
07.East Jesus Nowhere: in my opinion, there is no doubt that this is a potential future single. It is such a 'Green Day' song and explores many different qualities of the band. It is about religion and how great it actually is. One of the best songs on the album. 10/10
08.Peacemaker: This is such a great song, and sounds like it could be on Warning. It sounds a lot like Misery and like I said earlier, it has a sort of Spanish feel to it. It is unlike what I've heard before from Green Day and its use of distortion and acoustic guitar is really good. 9/10
09.Last of the American Girls: In my opinion, with this song, you either like it or you don't. I think that it sounds too generated and seems very much like a filler song. It's got a good melody, but I just think its not their best work. 7/10
10.Murder City: This is a good song that reminds me of She's a Rebel. It's a definite punk song and is very much like something that could have been on Insomniac. 8/10
11.Viva la Gloria?(Little Girl): Another of my favourites off this album. Again, this one sounds sort of like Misery, and the verse is played largely on the offbeat. I think this is another potential single, as it has everything. 9/10
12.Restless Heart Syndrome: This is a classic ballad and something that I would have never imagined Green Day to produce. Although this is such an unusual song from Green Day, I can see this as a potential single as well. The melody is fantastic and Billy Joe reaches the high notes really well on this. I can also hear a U2 influence in this song, and not in a bad way. 9/10
ACT III - HORSESHOES AND HANDGRENADES
13.Horseshoes and Handgrenades: I love this song, it is a song worthy of Dookie and has a sort of Hives feel to it. It is a very angry song, and although it doesn't really have a part in the story, it fits in really well. 10/10
14.The Static Age: Really catchy song, and one that you can just hum along to. Doesn't really seem that it should be here, maybe earlier in the album, I'm not sure, but it is still a great song. 9/10
15.21 Guns: My favourite Green Day song off this album. It is so wonderfully heartfelt and everything about it is fantastic. I'm not sure if it's a love song or an anti-war song or a political song, but it's absolutely amazing, and a cert for a single. 10++++/10
16.American Eulogy: Begins with a repetition of the Song of the Century and then breaks off into 2 seperate songs. The first one is called Mass Hysteria and the chorus is very unoriginal, but the verse reminds me so much of Deadbeat Holiday. Then it moves into Modern Age. I'm not convinced about this one. It again is very unoriginal, but the verse is again the best bit, in which Mike sings. Then, the two choruses merge and seems to be an 'overload of the senses' as BJA puts it. Overall, I'm not too keen on this song. 6.5/10
17.See the Light: I haven't listened to this song too much, as I've often lost interest after American Eulogy, but it seems to be a really good final track. It opens with the same opening as the title track and follows this sequence throughout. 8/10
You'll notice that I've referred to many different songs off other albums throughout this review. You can take this in one of two ways. You can think oh, God, they're just putting out the same old stuff. However, I like to think of it as a tying together of all their best stuff. There is stuff her for everyone. You can clearly see the Dookie/Insomniac/Nimrod influence is there, as is the Warning influence, and also a continuation of American Idiot. For me, this is Green Day's best ever work as it is a collection of everything that is great about Green Day. If you don't have this album, I urge you to go out and buy it NOW. // 10
21st Century Breakdown
unregistered, on november 12, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Greed Day's new album "21st Century Breakdown" comes 5 years after their previous album "American Idiot", which was a great success. And this album is undoubtedly another success. The sound of the album is great. It has Green Day's signature Punk-rock-opera style. But that doesn't mean it's the same boring recycled stuff of previous albums. While maintiaing their signature style, the album shows more depth of music that their previous albums. Most of the songs are politically charged (as expected). As you probably already know, the album is rock opera style and is divided into three acts and it basically follows the narritive of a young couple (Gloria and Christian). So, I will not get into that.
Most of the songs are good, but a few songs are absolutely brilliant. Specially "21 Guns", "21st Century Breakdown" and "Know your Enemy" are great songs. "Know Your Enemy" has that classic punk sound that gets your blood boiling. "21 Guns" is just beautiful to listen to. It has a beautiful chord progression (Dm A# F C...and in chorus F C Dm C A# F C).
The guitar work through out the album is not too difficult, but great to listen too. Most of the songs are played with power chords. It may be simple, but sounds great. // 9
Lyrics: As always, the lyrics of the song are political. The lyrics reflect the feeling of modern society. The impressive thing is that lyrics through out the album links together to tell the story of Christian and Gloria. That's cool. I specially like the words of "21 Guns". It has lovely lines like "Do you know what we're fighting for, when it's not worth dying for..".
Not all the songs have great lyrics though. The starting verses of "Know Your Enemy" is weak. "Do you know your enemy....Well gotta know your enemy" isn't really great words.
Armstrong's vocals were absolutely great. You could tell from his voice that some of the songs were personal to him. // 9
Overall Impression: This is one of Green Day's best albums. It's right up there with "American Idiot". It's impressive that they managed to maintian high quality of music over the years (unlike U2's latest album). My favorite song of the album is "21 Guns". But almost all the songs are good. I love the simple power chord guitars and the beautiful lyrics of the album. I would definitely buy this album again if it were lost/stolen. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
petrina_678, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album has shown how far Green Day has come from Dookie, and in a good way. They have matured in terns of topic choices, and also as musicians. The whole album still has that great energy as their earlier albums but is a bit more gritty and dark and more put together as a whole. 21st century breakdown isnt just an album to rock out to or to simply enjoy, its one of those life changing albums that make you stop in that moment and think about life.
I completely love it, totally blew me away. I had high expectations of the album, but it shattered them. It really touches me on a deeper level, I can connect with it in every way. Its a stunning work of art, and its so easy to be drawn into it, even on your first listen, there's something so organic about it and even though its the first time im listening to it, its as though its the music of my life .It was so natural to hear it.
The sound is really bigger than american idiot. And yes I do prefer this over ALL other green day albums.
As you listen on there seems to be some kinda love-hate relationship going on. Basically both of them represent the 2 different ideas of how to deal with society today.
This album sounds alot darker/grittier than american idot, the sound is also alot bigger. The use of strings and piano ads a beautiful/softer edge on some songs letting green day demonstrate their versatility as songwriters. There were more plays on effects regarding guitar, and some acoustic guitar thrown in as well. Its alot more diverse than pervious albums, with more variety regarding song styles and overall tones. Again dont expect this to be an album with raging technical solos, its brilliant in its simplicity. That being said, its not going to bore you with similar sounding riffs either (e.g american idiot). Certain sounds/melodies do remind me of the warning/nimrod era.
This album definitely has alot of influence from musicals, hence the opening song of the century and restless hart syndrome . You can also hear the who and queen,maybe even AD/DC. Plus you cant deny their punk roots, and the clash sounds spring up too. // 10
Lyrics: It was written in a rock opera kinda way, two main characters Gloria and Christian. Gloria is as the bad says the torch bearer. She symbolizes hope and is kinda the one holding on to the edge.
"She is the saint on all the sinners
The one that's fallen through the cracks"
Christian is kinda the hell-raiser, the anarchist, burning everything down, basically the opposite of gloria.
"This diabolic state is gracing my existence
Like a catasrophic baby"
The album really touches alot of emotions, more so than any previous album ,and its way more intense on the emotional level than even American Idiot. You can literally feel the tenderness and love on last night on earth, its really a beautiful love song. Then of course there's the rage ,anger and rebellion on Know your enemy. To me really the most beautiful song is 21 guns there's really a tone of vulnerability in it for me and it really moved me to tears.
Yes the band has improved, alot more diverse topics. They are a little more complex from American idiot, but still retains that signature Green day style of conveying powerful messages through simplicity. So you wont find complicated hidden metaphors here, but what are offered are songs which allow you to interpret with various meanings, hence it allows you to really connect and understand each song.
Billie experiments successfully abit more on this album. For the first time we get to hear his falsetto, which works well when sparingly and appropriately used, like on this album. We also hear a deeper side to his voice ( modern world) and he screams on this too. He's also not as monotonous, making use of softer vocals when require. All in all he showcases a lot more then he's done before. He took some risks and they worked out great. // 9
Overall Impression: How does it compare to other Green day albums:
With 21 century breakdown green day has officially outgrown the shadow of dookie, more so than even with American idiot. GOne is that laid back sloppy buzzy punk sound, like on dookie and 1039/smoothed out slappy hours. Replaced is a much bigger bolder more polished sound which is reminiscent of warning and nimrod mixed with American idiot and beefed up with better mixing and a more grown up sound with a touch more classic rock.
BEST/comment on songs on the album :
01.21 Guns: very addictive and beautiful, edgy and vulnerable. Not like anything green day has done before.
02.Viva La Gloria: catchy, love the beginning. Nice mellow opening that jumps into classic green day.
03.Peacemaker: sounds like it could have been on warning. Jumpy and bouncy.
04.Murder City: not the most impressive but it had to be mentioned because its the only song that Sounds very much like something that could have been on American idiot. which tell you alot about how different this album is from its predecessor .
05.Last Night On Earth: sweet love song, which kinda reminds me of wake me up when sept ends, only because its a sweet ballad kind of song.
06.Little Girl: very broadway in the intro. Again sounds like something from warning (reminds me of misery ) nice upbeat and has that crazy dark carnival sound.
But honestly what makes this album so great is that its a total package of songs that will inspire and provoke. There are no filler songs. They work together cohesively and add to each other. Every song is addictive and meaningful and are open to interpretation.
I listened to the whole album with a critical ear, although I'm a massive green day fan, if this album was done by any other band I would worship them as well, so do not for one second think that I'm raving about this album simply because I'm a fan. Green day really out did themselves, this album pushes them beyond American idiot, and it really showcases a different side of them. 21 century breakdown is destined to be a classic album for me, on that I can never tire of. I cant get enough of it.
I just want thank green day for the blood sweat and tears put into this album, because you can literally feel their emotions on it. I think it's very brave of them to put themselves out to the world like this, and being so vulnerable. Green day has always inspired me to be a better person and musician, and this album is not any different. To me their music isnt just something I listen to, it's something I live by and that gives me strength, hope, faith and inspiration. This album is their gift to the world.
If it were lost: I'll run out and get another ASAP! cant live without it. // 10
21st Century Breakdown
unregistered, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I'll start by saying I've only listened to the 21st century breakdown from front to back once. Barring the title track, Know your Enemy and 21 Guns I've only heard the songs from the album once.
I've been a Green Day fan for around 4/5 years and I guess you could call me a bit of a Green Day fanatic. I've loved every album released by them since their debut 1039 SOSH album right up to American Idiot. Therefore it was a bit of a shock when I found myself struggling to get into their new album. Maybe I built it up too much or perhaps it will take time to get used to this ambitious, glamorous rock opera.
Green Day's punk credentials seem to have faded more and more after every album since the release of Nimrod in 1997. This latest release seems to take another step away from the genre into an area I don't think Green Day fit. When Billie Joe was asked whether Green Day are still a punk band or not he seems to stray from the question almost avoiding an answer - "Oh yeah, that's ground zero for us, Coming from Gilman Street, we saw the most creative people I've ever seen in my life." These guys started out as punks but sometimes it feels like their stuck between creativity and their roots, a feeling obvious when listening to the new album.
The influences in this album are as clear as a bell, from the Brian May guitar strokes in the title track to the Jungeland-esq Springsteen heard in Viva La Gloria. The Clash to me have always been the British punk band Green Day (Bassist Mike Dirnt in particular) have admired the most and within their punk elements throughout the album, it can be heard.
The tracks on the album are the most powerful the band have ever written. 21st Century Breakdown is an epic start to a monstrous 70 minute journey that entices listeners into the album with an uncharacteristic piano piece followed by the blast of the Green Day old school fans would appreciate, rather a repetitive motion during the album, a ballad-like start which progressively evolves into a pop-punk melody. Know your Enemy is the "American Idiot" of Breakdown, a 3 minute blast of repetitive pop-punk fury. The lead single has character, charisma and passion and boy do Green Day show it. These guys may be close to 40 but they can still show they have the capabilities of maintaining their status as one of the greatest live acts in the world, definitely one to watch out for on their World Tour.
Overall, the sound is top notch, the maturity levels these guys have reached is just incredible, unrecognisable from the 22 year old punks throwing mud everywhere 15 years ago at Woodstock. However this step is just one too far for my personal liking, I guess its just too strange for me to hear Green Day writing music like this, I really don't think it suits them but I admire them for their impetus to change their style and keep with their time and age. // 6
Lyrics: The first thing I noticed was the way I could actually pick up most of the lyrics when Billie Joe throws out these socio-political statements. His singing voice has changed in this album, moving from a slurred, possible fake British singing slur to a clear, powerful meaningful, sentimental voice. The lyrics seem to really follow the pattern of the story and nature of the album, a confusing bunch of words to some people is a massive statement regarding the 21st century in America to others, the lyrics are bold, intense and clear. Billie Joe yet again increase a level in his song writing ability. // 8
Overall Impression: In agreement with fellow reviewer Shard Heilia, this is to me one of the weaker Green Day albums. Although it is strong in many ways it still lacks that feeling a I get when I listen to Green Day, it just doesn't sound "right". This will be rated as one of the albums of the year because it has a powerful exterior, but in my mind it will be because of the Green Day "fans" who jump from album to album lavishing it praise because of 3 hot guys who are currently flavour of the month. Old School Green Day fans will find it difficult to adjust to this new release but at least there was American Idiot first which will have softened the blow.
The album seems to delve into every emotion Billie Joe has to offer and I'm not surprised this new release almost killed him. Christians Inferno, Relentless Heart Syndrome, 21 Guns and American Eulogy would be my automatic favourites within the album. I love Billie Joe's voice and his instrumental skills, both of which far exceed anything he did on American Idiot. A positive is that it sounds like an album which should be made by a band thats been going for 20 odd years.
If I lost my copy of 21st century breakdown I probably wouldn't buy it again in this age of mp3/itunes etc. However I think the album needs to grow on me first before I can really form a competemt answer.
In conclusion I would recommend this album to anyone who has the patience and understanding of modern life and how it affects the world, its a serious album but one which I feel can be enjoyed. Sometimes you think back and wonder why Green Day didnt stick to the music they played 15 years ago but then you start to understand that music to Green Day is their core of everything that happens in their life, and as they say life goes on, progressing, and their music has followed them. And to finish off with a quote from Billie Joe - "Rock and roll can be dangerous and fun at the same time". // 7
21st Century Breakdown
LesPaulMan95, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Before I put the disk into my CD player, I thought that the album would be adequate, nothing special. At least that's what I heard. But after the first couple of songs, I had a completely different mind towards this CD. Green Day really brought it their all into the recording studio, and stunned me (as well as many others) with possibly their best album yet. The CD itself is somewhat like American Idio. It has a story, strong and fast songs, soft and beautiful songs and has the title track first. The story is about a young couple, Christian and Gloria as they battle though the 21st Century. Green Day used many different styles of music, there was some soft songs [Last Night On Earth], some pop punk songs [Know Your Enemy], there was songs that started out slow and ended up in a Queenish grandeur in the end [Before the Lobotomy] and the fast pump 'n' grind songs [Christian's Inferno]. This album has all the sounds, the perfect lyrics, and a couple of added instruments. // 9
Lyrics: What I noticed most about this new album is that the lyrics really mean something, not "hehe lets jack off woot woot" kinda stuff. They tell a story about the characters, or how they (Green Day) were feeling when they wrote the song. The song [Last Night On Earth] really shows what I'm talking about. In my opinion, Billie Joe sings his best in this album out of all of them. He gets the high notes, and hes really got a knack at finding what notes to sing. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, The Whole Album Was Amazing. It has all the stuff you would expect from Green Day, and much more. The songs weren't too complicated, Billie Joe sings perfectly, Mike's backing vocals rock and Tre's drumming is steady and right on beat. If your reading this review, and your dedating wether you should get the album, you should seriously get it. IF your a Green Day fan, you will love it. IF your not, but think you'd like them, listen to a song of iTunes and see if you like it, because if you do get the album. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
FinalCon, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of the songs on this album are incredibly varied. There is one song that is basically a love ballad (Last Night on Earth), a Hives rehash (Horseshoes and Handgrenades), and even a song with a Mexican flair (Peacemaker). At every turn you will hear something different. For a Green Day album, this has a lot of slow songs. Most of these songs get faster as the song goes on though.
If you first listen to this album looking for old Green Day you won't like it. For anyone at all, it will probably take a few listens to get used to. However, if you're like me, you will be humming these songs all day long, trying to listen to the album whenever you can. These are songs that grow on you, and you will love the majority of them.
Overall, the album sounds fantastic. If it wasn't for Armstrong's distinct vocals however, you probably wouldn't even know this was Green Day. It would almost seem like a compilation of many famous bands put onto one CD. Sounds great, but it takes a few listens to get used to. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics are the most important part of the CD. While vague at times, it seems that Armstrong nailed it with the lyrics. You will have to think to understand these lyrics fully, or what they have to do with the main characters in the story. Sometimes, as with East Jesus Nowhere, the song doesn't necessarily have any meaning to the story. It's probably just the beliefs of Christian and Gloria (main characters), but it's not made clear. This song still has great lyrics, ranting about the institution of religion.
Every song on this album either has to do directly with the characters in the story or their beliefs, and they work well. Armstrong also shows off some quite impressive vocals for a singer in a "punk band". These vocals are mainly showed off in the slower songs though, as in songs like Christian's Inferno and Horseshoes and Handgrenades, Armstrong is basically screaming. This matches the lyrics though, as these songs have some of the angrier lyrics on the record.
Overall, the lyrics are the highlight of the album. They may seem preachy, but hell, I like them. // 9
Overall Impression: This album has a lot of good songs, so it is difficult to pick my favorites. One is Viva La Gloria!, which actually has a Coldplay feel in the beginning (stick with me, it's good Coldplay, not bad), and is ridiculously catchy when it speeds up. Another really good song is East Jesus Nowhere, which has great lyrics, and is overall just really, really great. The second verse is the highlight of this song, where it gets softer, but it's also very creepy, matching what Green Day is trying to get across.
To be honest, this song has a couple of generic songs on it. Last of the American Girls, while having amusing lyrics and giving you a better insight on what I assume is Gloria, sounds kind of generic. Last Night on Earth is a slower song that is also kind of generic as well.
Still, this is the only album where I have every song on my iPod. Every other album I have, there is at least one song I really hate, but not on this. Even though some songs are generic, they still sound good. I even like the slow songs, and this is a Green Day album! I'm actually looking for my copy of American Idiot again because I'm Green Day crazy again. In my honest opinion, everyone should be. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
Mr.LeadGuitar, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I must admit, Green Day went all out on this album. They improved their sound entirely, while still maintaining their punk roots. They've explored new areas of music, introduced new techniques (like their transitions from songs)and improved on their story aspects of their albums. From what I gather (though I haven't looked too far into it), the whole album is about a love story between Gloria and Christian, and the troubles that come from it. In the 16 track album (18 for deluxe edition, plus an extra B-side, bringing it to 19), there are more soft songs, a lot more songs with piano, and a lot more guitar solos, which in themselves were more advanced than any other I've heard in Green Day's history (in the solo for "Restless Heart Syndrome", excessive wah is used). The tracks show the amount of effort put into this album, from the meaningful peace-wishing song "21 Guns" to the exotic "Peacemaker" to possibly the new arena theme "Know Your Enemy" (it may just be me, but I could easily see that becoming the next great stadium song). Frankly, this is now my favorite of Green Day's albums, and perfect as a follow-up for their American Idiot album. // 9
Lyrics: Again, Green Day's come out with story album, filled with great lyrics, melodies, and vocal hooks. The album, a story about the love between Gloria and Christian, showcases Billy Joe's vocal abilities in a fun and pleasant 1+ hour collection of new music. Despite them being around going on 20 years now, Billy Joe is still leaving us with memorable lines and lyrics. // 9
Overall Impression: This and American Idiot are probably my favorite of the entire extensive Green Day cataloge, though in my opinion this album vastly surpasses their last album, as it did all of their other works. After listening to it no less than 5 times straight through, my favorite songs would have to be the title track, Viva La Gloria!, Last Night On Earth, Peacemaker, Restless Heart Syndrome, 21 Gun, American Eulogy: Mass Hysteria / Modern Age, and one of the two bonus songs, A Quick One While He's Away, which begins with a Queen-styled multi harmony a capella vocal intro. I love the whole album, and would pry it from the cold, dead, blistered, burnt, and bloated fingers of whatever sick bastard decided to take it from me. I would by it again if it were lost, but considering I've sent a digital copy of the album to no less than 13 of my friends, I doubt I'd have to. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
jord101290, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Almost 5 years have passed since the last Green Day studio album and finally the long wait is over. The simple and beautifully fitting musical genius of Green Day is back, and this time it's been kicked up a gear.
A religious themed story of pre, present, and post modern American living under presidential grips shows the album following two lovers through just that. Although the same simple guitar work, cheeky drums, and hard hitting bass is there, it appears the band are still, even now, maturing more and more with every album. You can hear the more consistent precision in the writing process through the musical and lyrical productivity without thinking twice.
The album spans from punk rock to pop, following the best of the best tunes in between. This is just one of many ways that the album shows that it can offer something for everyone, and should not be underestimated. Never judge a book by it's cover, the album executes the saying perfectly in every way. // 9
Lyrics: It can be a challenge to deliver and get your point across in a song through lyrics whilst keeping a decent, catchy, interesting and overall good melody. But this album has shown an incredible increase in lyrical genius in sync with catchy melody, not to mention the fact that they haven't really changed who they are since the previous album.
Basically the lyrics could never compliment the music any better even if they tried for another five years. The band have thought long and hard over everything and nothing seems out of place what so ever.
Billiejoe still sounds the same as ever (which is a good thing if you like the band) however now, he has a flick on his voice which is indescribable. Perhaps it's age. Perhaps it's digitally enhanced microphones, what ever it is, it's the key to an even better and more interesting Green Day. // 10
Overall Impression: There is no hiding the fact that the single 'Know Your Enemy' is already a hit, I need not mention the song for it's catchy rhythm, melody and notably lyrical link to similarity, simplicity and beauty. A few songs that stand out to me (personally) as epic on the album are as follows:
Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl): for it's incredible beat and use of melody, it instantly becomes a top fave from the album. Amazing intro, Amazing verse, Amazing Chorus, Amazing bridge, Amazing Outro, there is NOTHING to improve on this song! 11/10
East Jesus Nowhere: this song is full of meaningful and well written lyrics (as is all the others of course) that stand out so much to me. But what really wins it for me, is the incredible yet simple use of guitars to hold the beat with muted strumming and the insatiably amazing chorus melody. 9/10
Last Night On Earth: the piano in this song is beautifully composed and the vocals melt and relax every inch of stress. This is the kind of song I never thought Green Day would or even COULD make. Remember never judge a book by it's cover. 9/10
Restless Heart Syndrome: if there's a type of song I love, it's definitely one that builds and builds from soft instrumental into a hard head banging fiesta. Having amazing vocals pursue an immense melody is just a bonus in my eyes. 10/10
Horseshoes And Handgrenades: possibly the most punk rock song on the album, and it IS a truly epic song. Very old school sounding, a lovely distort effect on BillieJoes vocals give it a hardcore industrial sound, and just compliments the scream perfectly, listen for it and LOVE IT 8/10
Overall there isn't anything to dislike particularly on the album, it lives up to the long wait. My only advice is to the haters, and sceptics. Some people left Green Day behind because of American Idiot, I would definitely recommend this album to any one of any genre, give it a listen and I'm certain there will be at least one track for you. Possibly one of the best albums ever released! Enjoy! // 10
21st Century Breakdown
simple_guitar, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: In Green Day's brand new "21st Century Breakdown" the band tries a new sound for them, which I think is inspired by Paul McCartney, but still keep the very punk rock approach they always had. In this album, bass and drums are more powerful than ever. We know that before, Green Day used to put the guitar a little bit more at the front of the other instruments, but in that album, all instruments are perfectly balanced. // 8
Lyrics: "21st Century Breakdown" lyrics are totally in the same vibe than those from "American Idiot", so, with a pure punk inspiration, about today's world's biggest diseases. American Idiot was a rock opera about two teens in a country in war, but 21st Century Breakdown is about a couple going through the 21st century and thinking over it. The opera is divided in three acts: Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints and Horseshoes and Handgrenades. In these three acts, the band talks about spirituality and war principally. They sometime refer to the class of '13, which is Billie Joe Armstrong's son's class, in that album like: the desperate in the decline, raised by the bastards of 1969. // 10
Overall Impression: For me, the best songs of this album are: "Before The Lobotomy", "East Jesus Nowhere", "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" and "See The Light". What I like the most about this album is its truth, the way it makes you realise that progress is not always the best thing you can find. If this album would be broken or stolen, because I would never lose it, I would immediately buy it back. // 10
21st Century Breakdown
DemonInTheFlesh, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: '21st Century Breakdown' is Green Day's second concept record, but it breaks away from the story of 2004's 'American Idiot'. The new record follows a young couple (Christian and Gloria) on their journey into the promise and disappointment of a new age.
Green Day is one band that has had plenty of ups and downs with their fanbase over the years due to their occasional change in sound and accusations of them "selling out". The overall sound and composition of '21st Century Breakdown' is very similar to that of 'American Idiot' (2004), though with the new album, the band seems to have moved even further away from their original pop-punk roots. '21st Century Breakdown' rings of influence from more classic artists, most notably The Who, The Beatles, and Neil Young. The lack of more edgy songs on this album is another obvious difference from the band's early albums. The heaviest songs on the album ('East Jesus Nowhere' and 'Horseshoes and Handgrenades') also prove to be some of its strongest points while the softer, more emotional, sometimes piano-laden tracks ('Last Night on Earth' and '21 Guns') make a nice contrast to balance out the record. // 9
Lyrics: Billie Joe Arstrong has always shone as a lyricist, cranking out clever metaphors and well-composed lines on many a song, though on certain tracks on '21st Century Breakdown', he appears to be slightly off his game. There are what appear to be forced rhymes and even a couple cliched lines in 'Restless Heart Syndrome'. Weakness as a lyricist has never been a problem for Billie Joe, though it does rear its ugly head once or twice on this album. Overall- the lyrics are Billie Joe through and through, though they show evident maturity and growth as a songwriter.
The vocals on this record are simply spectacular. Something not often seen on past Green Day records make this one stand out from others- Billie Joe's unexpectedly skilled use of falsetto range ('Before the Lobotamy'). Vocal harmony laces the record as per all Green Day albums and is a nod to one element the band has yet to drop since their humble beginnings. // 8
Overall Impression: Green Day has always been a unique band and it shows on this album. They have developed and grown so much since their beginning as the first pop-punk outfit and their music has matured beyond what this writer would have ever forseen. As far as being a landmark album, '21st Century Breakdown' falls short where 'American Idiot' has already succeeded. The new style and sound of the band that shone with 'American Idiot' is still present in the new album, but the shock of a new sound has worn off. So while '21st Century Breakdown' is nothing short of epic, 'American Idiot' kind blew away its chance for being as earthshaking as it could have been. In conclusion- if you have an affinity for concept albums, Green Day, or just plain good music, this album is definitely worth a listen. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
actaderock, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Before it was released, I was waiting for it anxiously, as if it was going to be another super-hit, just as American Idiot or Dookie (different styles, but super hits). Know Your Enemy is the first single and was released before the album, I liked it a lot (eventhough the solo is 100% cheesy) and it has a really catchy riff and a really catchy melody. I think I was disapointed with Green Day when I heard 21 Guns, the 2nd single. It was like Wake Me up When September Ends, but I think that should've been the last single/video, like in American Idiot we had the happy ones first and the sad one at the end.
I really like how it is a conceptual album, following the story of a young couple (Gloria and Christian). I don't really like how they are mooving from old fun Pop Punk to gay 00's decadent Pop, but that is just taste. It is divided in 3 acts. The first act is the cheesiest one because it has a lot of Pop Rock guitars in it and Billy's voice sounds too pop for my taste. The second act is more punk and it is the best act in the whole album. East Jesus Nowher, Last of the American Girls, Murder City, or even Christian's Inferno (the last song in the list is from the first act) are the punky songs I am talking about and that should'v been singled before 21 Guns (what I mean is that American Idiot was awesome and gave a really good impression because the heavy songs came first, I am talking about American Idiot, Holiday, got a bit softer with Boulevard of Broken Dreams and then the ballad came, Wake Me up When September Ends, then the last single was Jesus of Suburbia, just saying). Mooving on, the third act, has only one song and reminds me a lot of Jesus of Suburbia, it is called American Eulogy. // 6
Lyrics: After American Idiot, this doesnt't impress me in lyrics, but just because American Idiot was awesome. But they are really good.
About the compliance of the lyrics and the music, it is just too pop for me, but again, it is just the taste. But I'd like to say that the second act isn't just cool, it is really good music-wise.
About the singer skills, Billy is just trying hard to do pop timbres, not like in the Green Day old days when his voice was Punk, but anyway, in the Punk songs, he does a good job (and there is a part of Know Your Enemy where he sings a phrase that sounds completely Metalcore, hate Metalcore, but awesome job). // 7
Overall Impression: Again, it doesn't compare to Dookie or American Idiot, but if you like pop you will love it, if you like old fun Pop Punk you will love the second act (Charlatans and Saints). Again, I really recomend hearing Charlatans and Saints, but about the ones that I don't like, Peacemaker is appreciable. I love that Green Day is making music again; for the hundredth time, love the second act, hate the other 2, specially Heroes and Cons (the first act). If it was stolen, lost or whatever, I wouldn't buy it again, I'd rather waste the money in the upcoming Blink 182 album, or if it was possible, I'd buy Charlatans and Saints only, jejeje. // 6
21st Century Breakdown
Ben84, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I think that Green Day have really broadened their sound in this album. We're used to a fast paced, punk sort of sound, and they strayed from that a few times in American Idiot. But we have just about everything in this album. From Rock anthems like 21st Century Breakdown, to slow piano ballads like Last Night on Earth, its all there. We even can hear some Spanish influence maybe on Peacemaker. But they havn't left their Punk Rock roots behind, with Horseshoes and Handgrenades and Murder City bringing out the power chords. This album has so much variety in the sound, and musically, it is definitely their most daring yet. Some people don't like the new sound, but I love it, because all the songs are completely unique in their sound. // 9
Lyrics: I think that Billie Joe has pretty much left that nasal voice (which we did love) behind. Although that was something that made Green Day so unique, I still think he sounds alot better on this album. Although I can tell a lot of editing has gone into his voice which takes out some of the raw feeling you get with the old Green Day albums. The lyrics are brilliant. The album is (like American Idiot) a concept album, based on the post-Bush America. It follows the story of a young couple: Christian and Gloria. It follows less of a direct story compared to American Idiot, but all the songs seem to relate to each other. I have to admit, I havn't actually worked out what the story is yet, but I just know its about this couple and their life in modern America. These lyrics are very deep, and you can tell that Billie Joe has spent a lot of time and effort into writing them. It has definitely payed off. Like American Idiot, it is so much different to the Lyrics of the old Green Day. No more singing about masturbation :( lol. // 9
Overall Impression: I've compared it to American Idiot alot in this review, and thats the one way I can think of critizing this near perfect album: Is it too like American Idiot? I don't think so. I think that they've taken American Idiot, and improved it. Its based around the same message about America, but contains much better music and variety. There are songs in American Idiot that really stand out to me, but also those that don't. For some I felt that they were just created to get the lyrics in, and the music was nothing special in these ones. But every song is unique in this album. It is definitely there most challenging and creative album yet. It is one of my favourite albums and I got the tab book straight away. My favourite song is definitely 21 Guns. It is such a different song to what we're used to from Green Day, especially with the contrast between the verse and chorus. I also really like the solo, its so simple but so effective.
I would definitely reccomend buying this album if you havn't already. It is available quite cheap, and the last time I looked it was about 5 on iTunes and in HMV. The price really doesn't reflect the quality, and I was really surprised to see it so cheap. It is a fantastic follow up to American Idiot, and that wasn't an easy thing to do. // 10
21st Century Breakdown
Airbourne775, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Well this album has definatley proven that Green Day has come a long way since their first album (1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour) The sound is not as distorted, more of a smooth foot tapping sound and there is a bit of a storyline behind this newest album, almost like American Idiot. I like the new Green Day as much as the old one :)
(Anything else I'd like to share? Well... I'm only doing this to complete my profile XD) // 9
Lyrics: I love the lyrics, I can relate along with many other people like me. Billie Joe Armstrong is great at singing all of them, along with Mike Dirnt who sang a verse or two in the song "American Eulogy" (which I didn't know was him at first). With all the songs, the lyrics just fit with the music. // 9
Overall Impression: I don't know. All the songs seem impressing. Green Day is Green Day. They live to impress you. If this album got stolen from me or I lost it... I would definatley go replace it right away! I love this album. The sound is great :) I really don't hate anything on this album... like I just said it sounds great. They put it together really well. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
Nirvanafan60, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: These guys rock and sound good every time, now people say Green Day are try hard punk artists but Green Day clearly state that they are a PUNK ROCK band. This album is pretty much giving the public a taste of their new approach on music, Billy Joel Armstrong is an incredible guitarist and has a great voice for his genre and this is what he is made for. Tre cool and Mike Durnt are also incredible musicians along with all the backstage musicians that contribute to Green Days music. There are tracks like horseshoes and hand grenades which are fast pace songs but then it can go into songs like Viva La Gloria! that is relatively slow but keeps the same energy which is really good, this album is obviously about rebelling against the norm and pretty much telling the government to stick it with a Green Day spin on it. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are pretty good but can get a bit too repeative at times like in know your enemy, but the lyrics relate too the message they are trying to send out to the public through music. Billie Joel Armstrong is an amazing singer with great songwriting skills and is really a punk rock legend I'm sure most of you agree. The on thing I really like with this album is that it is not allover the place unlike a lot of other bands are these guys always stick to one topic making it easier to connect the lyrics to the song and message. // 7
Overall Impression: This album is picking up where American idiot left off, Green Day really surprised and impressed me with this album and I fell in love with it within listening to it for 20 minutes. My two favourite songs from this album are Horse shoes and hand grenades and 21st Century break down. The main thing I love about this album is that it is very easy to listen too and easy to pick up. The one thing I dislike is the amount of cr@p they got for "changing" into a "softer" form of music which absolute bullocks because they are still a great band and have kept the same aim and message. I borrowed this album off my friend and I will buy this when I have enough money to and if it were broken lost or stolen I would re buy it. Overall this album is yet another Landmark in Green Days career and will be remembered for years too come and is a Green Day classic. Fantastic Album worth all the money. // 9
21st Century Breakdown
TJ1991, on november 12, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: When Green Day released 2004's "American Idiot", the world watched as the album opened the floodgates for anti-George Bush propaganda, as well as fuelling its creators' return to megastardom. But how do you follow up a hugely successful concept album that, to some people, made every punk album that had come before it irrelevant? Write another, bigger one, of course.
So, we're presented with "21st Century Breakdown", Green Day's 7th studio album and their second giant slab of American political commentary. Split into three pretentiously titled 'acts'; "Heroes And Cons", "Charlatans And Saints", and "Horseshoes And Handgrenades", the album allegedly tells the semi-autobiographical story of Christian and Gloria (intentionally loaded names, no doubt), described by The Guardian's Dan Silver as a "narcissistic nihilist" and a "former freedom fighter struggling to capture her youthful idealism." With a running time of 70 minutes, it's hard to tell whether Green Day have thrown caution to the wind for the sake of creative freedom, or if they're simply trying to justify the fact it took them five years to release a follow up to their biggest album to date with quantity rather than quality. The simple answer is that it's a bit of both, and as such The Good, The Bad and The Absolutely, Irretrievably Awful would be more appropriate act names.
Given the promises of subtly huge stadium rock that preceded the album's release, opener "Song Of The Century" is bound to catch even the most dedicated Green Day fan off guard. Rather than the huge, thumping powerchords of "American Idiot"'s title track or "Dookie"'s "Burnout", we are instead met by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong singing in the shower. In telephone quality. A cappella. It's nothing if not different, although downright bizarre would be more apt. "Sing us the song of the century / That's louder than bombs and eternity / The era of static and contraband / Leading us into the Promised Land," croons Armstrong, in what is presumably intended as some kind of alternative American national anthem. Lo and behold, the political propaganda is in full swing already, not 30 seconds in. It soon becomes apparent that, as self-congratulatory as a title like "Song Of The Century" sounds, it's actually a relatively clever play on words. This is a song about the century so far. All 8 and a half years of it. While the intentionally low quality production of the song does have its charms, even 57 seconds is too long, and it's a relief when the title track kicks in.
Let's face it: When Green Day are on form, they're one of the best bands in the world. Their gradual evolution from snotty, snarling teenagers to mature alt-punk songwriters who still had some bite meant that when they finally conquered the mainstream they did so with dignity. They also had the experience behind them to deal with the fact that people would get bored of them pretty quickly unless they could write a radio hit. Hence, "21st Century Breakdown" contains a number of the core ideals of punk rock but with razor sharp production, musical diversity, and even the odd ballad. Aided by producer Butch Vig's emulation of Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound technique, "21st Century Breakdown" is overblown to the point where it makes "Born To Run" sound like a MIDI file, and Green Day give us an idea of what The Polyphonic Spree would sound like if all their songs had been written by Joe Strummer. The title track's acoustic guitar and piano opening sounds big enough to deafen the whole of redneck America, and the repeated back and forth chords of D and A build for a good 30 seconds before the whole band kicks in with their trademark distorted power chords and pounding rhythm section. Oh, this is unquestionably Green Day, but much, much bigger. So far so good, as the song is undoubtedly one of the best in their extensive back catalogue, building from a typical, albeit massive, three chord pop-punk ditty into a "Bohemian Rhapsody"-esque parody of "Star Spangled Banner" ("I can't even sleep / from the light's early dawn") via a bridge that offers a bizarre blend of U2-influenced guitar technique and traditional circus harmony. Lyrically the song provides a brief summary of the past, present and future of America, from the point of view of Armstrong and his oldest son, Joseph (hence "We are the class of '13," as Joseph is due to finish school in 2013). The opening lyric of "Born into Nixon, I was raised in hell / a warfare child where the teamsters dwelled," speaks for itself, suggesting that the demise of the Bush administration is nothing to get excited about, as it is simply just the end of another chapter in America's dubious political history, while "Last one born and the first one to run" tells us that the band are acutely aware of the enormity of their latest creation, namechecking Springsteen's biggest and best album, which was conveniently released shortly after the fall of Nixonism. The vicious swipes at the Bush administration heard in "American Idiot" are still present ("Video games as the towers fall / Homeland security could kill us all"), and this time they're not drowned in unnecessary metaphor. On the whole the song is reminiscent of "Homecoming", a five-movement epic from "American Idiot", which stretches to well over 9 minutes. "21st Century Breakdown" succeeds where Homecoming fails, though, in that it sounds as though the band fully intended for it to be a multi-movement piece, rather than simply five unfinished songs cobbled together with no real clue as to why.
As the album progresses, Green Day's musical diversity really shines through, with "Peacemaker" being particularly outstanding. On the face of it, it's a bog standard punk song that just happens to be driven by an acoustic guitar, but when you stop and really listen to it, the crafting involved is masterful. An obvious Spanish flair acts as the backbone to this song which, when combined with Mike Dirnt's walking bassline and Tre Cool's rock solid drumming, provides the perfect bed for Armstrong's emotive and soaring vocals. Throw some well harmonised backing vocals into the mix, along with a twisting yet smooth lead guitar part based around the natural minor scale, and the result can only be described as an unlikely yet incredible combination of The Offspring, Gogol Bordello, The Beatles and a James Bond theme tune. Staggering. Elsewhere, Christian's Inferno channels the forgotten spirits of hardcore punk legends The Circle Jerks, while at the opposite end of the spectrum "Last Night On Earth" once again makes us wonder if this is really Green Day. If someone was to have told the band in the early 90s that one day they'd produce a pure love song at 63 beats per minute, driven by a piano and a couple of subtly arpeggiated guitars they'd have been laughed off the face of the earth, but that's exactly it. The lyrics do, however, feature Armstrong's signature dark side - "I'm here to honour you / If I lose everything in the fire / I'm sending all my love to you", which is all that really separates this song from the nauseating bile produced by bedwetters such as Coldplay, but the effect it has is immeasurable.
Then there's "Restless Heart Syndrome". Unquestionably the most powerful song on the album, it begins as a mid-tempo piano ballad with a string section, with lyrics tackling the mental breakdown of Christian - "So what ails you / Is what impales you / I feel like I've been crucified / To be satisfied." The song gradually builds with layer upon layer of arpeggiated guitar, which, combined with Armstrong's haunting vocals, a descending bassline and glissando interjections from the strings creates an unfathomable amount of tension. The band get under the listener's skin for almost three minutes, meandering through countless false releases which create a physical itch. The song finally bursts at the seams as the music stops dead and Armstrong's processed voice darkly instructs the listener to "Know your enemy", and a rocket fuelled wah-guitar solo with enough power to blow the roof off the White House hits us full in the face, before a syncopated coda containing no fewer than four harmonised guitar parts bring the song to a pounding close.
And so it continues, as an orgy of pianos ("Last Night On Earth"), string ensembles ("Restless Heart Syndrome"), dozens of stacked guitars ("21st Century Breakdown"), reversed signals ("21 Guns"), prog-style time changes ("Before The Lobotomy") and all-out cabaret romps ("Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)"), complete with harpsichord, twist and turn through the darkness of Billie Joe's view of modern America, until we end up at the concept album's ubiquitous Epic Wrap-up, "American Eulogy". At this point we're given the rare treat of lead vocals from bassist Mike Dirnt, which will no doubt be a huge selling point to many of the band's long-term following. A song of two movements, "Mass Hysteria" and "Mordern World", "American Eulogy" ends with an innovative blend of two different choruses, made all the more astounding when one takes into account they are in different keys. The music gradually fades out as static noise overwhelms the four vocal parts, followed by a swift cut in the sound, seemingly ending the album. Primarily a live band at heart, though, Green Day treat us to an encore, in the shape of "See The Light", a song which reprises the D and A chords which open "21st Century Breakdown". As the final notes fade out, we are left to decode all we just heard. Listening to the album from start to finish in one sitting is certainly quite the experience, and even slightly exhausting. Whatever NME say, this album is most certainly not "dumb and obvious."
"21st Century Breakdown" isn't without its issues, though. Amongst all the fresh and exciting stadium powerhouses there are more than a few duds. "Viva La Gloria!" is nothing more than a poor version of "American Idiot"'s "Letterbomb" with half an irrelevant ballad haphazardly whacked onto the beginning, purely for the sake of the bait-and-switch effect, while "Know Your Enemy" is possibly one of the laziest protest songs ever written. "Do you know the enemy?" asks Armstrong, somewhat predictably. 16 times. In 3 minutes. Combined with the three note melody which continues throughout all of the verses as well as the chorus and the three chord riff of B, E and A which follows suit, the vast majority of the song's musical content is revealed within the first 22 seconds. Which is probably why this was the radio hit - it's little more than a derivative, over-commercialised, passive aggressive pseudo-protest song for American housewives and stupid people. Even the lead guitar work, the only potential saving grace of this song, is ruined by the amount of times we have the same three notes shoved down our throats. There's some respite from the interminable repetition during the bridge, where Armstrong treats us to a new vocal melody, but within a few seconds we're back to the painful cries of "Do you know the enemy?" In the band's defense, they sound like they really mean it, but conviction alone isn't enough to redeem "Know Your Enemy". It's a shame. Green Day are far, far better than this, yet it's this song by which the masses will probably judge the entire album. Whoever made the perverse decision to release this as the album's first single deserves dumping on Alcatraz, with "Know Your Enemy" being blasted directly into their brain on a constant loop, until they finally understand what it's like to be a listener of modern rock radio. // 8
Lyrics: In general it's fair to say that Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the most underrated lyricists in rock, but "21st Century Breakdown" ultimately leaves us wondering if his ambitious attempt at penning a narrative from the perspective of two fictional characters and employing it as a metaphor for American politics was a little more than he could handle. While the character-based songs such as "Christian's Inferno", "Last Night On Earth" and "Last Of The American Girls" present a clear profile of Christian and Gloria, the story itself is hampered by the interjection of weak political protest, meaning neither the story or the politics shine through. In the end it's hard to tell exactly what's gone on, or why Christian and Gloria even exist. Armstrong's lyrics can be beyond scathing when he puts the effort in, such as in anti-religious rant "East Jesus Nowhere" - "Put your faith in a miracle / And it's non-denominational / Join the choir, we'll be singing / In the church of wishful thinking." But lines such as, "Vigilantes warning ya, calling Christian and Gloria" ("American Eulogy") come across as unmitigated laziness. Green Day are better than this; proof of which can be found on this very album.
With all that in mind, the criticism that Armstrong has received for his lyrics since the release of "American Idiot" has come almost exclusively from people who don't know the first thing about him. As is par for the course with such a mainstream band, they are the victims of incredibly harsh, ill-informed bile, and when critics realise the lyrics are actually rather well crafted the majority of the time, the band's perceived lack of authenticity always provides an easy target. "That Billie Joe Armstrong is so full of sh-t," spews one dissatisfied Amazon customer, "He doesn't know anything about the social issues he sings about." While this kind of criticism is borderline understandable from people who know little about Green Day beyond what they've heard on the radio, it's hardly fair to assume that the band are clueless or insincere just because they're rich. Sure, it's a known fact that lines such as "A hostage of the soul on a strike to pay the rent" ("American Eulogy") are sung into $10000 microphones in an ultra-modern studio in Hollywood, before the band take their big fat paycheques home to their multi-million dollar mansions and do their daily online shop for Gucci cravats, but the point is Green Day are speaking up on behalf of the voiceless. A band in their position could easily laugh all the way to the bank and never write anything meaningful ever again. But, having built their empire out of literally nothing (when recording their first album they were living in a disused mobile library and surviving on little more than bread and water), they've chosen to use their platform to stand up for people who need the empathetic voice which they can provide. It would have been all too easy for them to join the hordes of rancid pop tarts and start employing nameless idiots to pen crass, tuneless non-songs about shagging strangers in club toilets for them, but instead they remained true to their convictions. It's grossly unfair to suggest that the acquisition of wealth through one's own success erodes a person's ability to care about political issues, sympathise with people worse off than them, or have beliefs which aren't stereotypically congruent with being rich. // 6
Overall Impression: Since the release of "21st Century Breakdown" Green Day have been compared to every artist under the sun, some of which are justified (U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Who), and some of which are downright ridiculous (The Strokes? Queen? Chuck Palahniuk?!), but the blatant reuse of their own material from previous albums is difficult to ignore. "The Static Age"'s chorus is eerily reminiscent of "Church On Sunday", from "Warning", while the "Modern World" section of "American Eulogy" and "Warning"'s "Minority" can be sung over one another. The same goes for "East Jesus Nowhere" and "Welcome To Paradise", from "Dookie". Sure, they've ripped off The Hives in places ("Horseshoes And Handgrenades" = "Main Offender"), but this album is pure Green Day, and its musical content is evidently not as much of a leap into the unknown as it may seem.
On the whole, "21st Century Breakdown" is a good album, but given that the band took half a decade to come up with this follow up to "American Idiot", good just doesn't quite cut it. However, Toby Cook, writing for The Quietus, hits the nail on the head with, "If you'd been plagued by visions of some Warner exec waving a wad of dollar bills in their direction, shouting: 'Look, look, just re-hash "American Idiot" and all this can be yours!' thankfully, for the most part, you can rest reassured that Green Day have ignored this temptation." The saddest part of it is that, with careful editing, "21st Century Breakdown" could have been one of the best albums of all time. There's definitely a lot of potential, but at 70 minutes and 18 tracks, it's far, far too long. Green Day deserve some credit for attempting another concept album, but the idea fails miserably when it's too long and patchy to be listened to in one sitting. A 45 minute album of the 10 best songs from "21st Century Breakdown" would be far more appealing, and would also save the listener the frustration of trying to decode a story which simply isn't there. Simply put, this is a good selection of songs, rather than a coherent album, and the hidden gems can only really be picked out when the songs are digested separately from one another. Here's hoping their next effort will be less sprawling and subject to more reliable quality control. // 7