Sound — 9
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 10
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.