Sound — 6
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 7
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".