Revolution Radio review by Green Day

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Oct 7, 2016
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.3 (60 votes)
Green Day: Revolution Radio

Sound — 7
Ever since hitting a second wind in their career in 2004 with the glowing success of "American Idiot," Green Day have prided themselves as not just one of the most popular punk acts in the world, but one of the more elaborate ones regarding their recent penchant for conceptual compositions. But though "American Idiot" would continue to grow in popularity when it became adapted into a Broadway musical, the following concept albums Green Day put out showed a decline. The similarly-minded punk opera "21st Century Breakdown" cruised on its familiarity to its predecessor (also boasting the touch of producer Butch Vig), but 2012's trilogy series of "¡Uno!," "¡Dos!" and "¡Tré!" was a bloated bore. Billie Joe Armstrong may have described the three-album offering as an inspired surge of songwriting akin to the prolific likes of Ty Segall or Car Seat Headrest, but felt more like a pile of buffet-value Green Day music - abundant but sub-par.

In their twelfth album, "Revolution Radio," Green Day recalibrate back to the familiar and successful formula first struck in "American Idiot," though their numerous goals set in the album don't all succeed. First and foremost, they bring back some better punk energy that was lacking in the middling saturation of the 2012 trilogy album series, heard in the straightforward energy of "Bang Bang" the Bad Religion-esque opening riff of the eponymous song, and the tremolo guitar solo in "Too Dumb to Die," but this also contains some dead weight, like the boring punk cuts of "Still Breathing" and "Troubled Time."

YouTube preview picture

Beyond regaining a better grip on their punk sound, Green Day lace more sonic flavors in the album, similarly to the variance of "American Idiot," although this ends up being the weaker aspect of "Revolution Radio." While the country folk flavor that bookends the album in the opening "Somewhere Now" and the closing acoustic ballad of "Ordinary World" is the most substantial, other moments come off weak, like the slogging garage rocker "Say Goodbye," the meandering ballad "Outlaws," and the alt-rocker "Bouncing Off the Wall" sounding like a rip-off of The Vines. And with the penultimate "Forever Now" working in a multi-act structure similar to "Jesus of Suburbia" but meagerly reprising the intro song at its end, "Revolution Radio" fails to hit the same ambitious songwriting levels reached in "American Idiot," though the modulation thrown in the end of "Youngblood" is a short and sweet reminder that Armstrong still has some tricks up his sleeve.

Lyrics — 5
Though not sculpted as a fully-fledged rock opera story, Armstrong's lyrics in "Revolution Radio" pose similarly to "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown" in its subject matter. But past "Bang Bang" addressing the phenomenon of shooter culture in America (being the most specific and poignant bout of lyrics on the album), Armstrong doesn't seize any other fresh spectacles or topics, and falls back into well-worn territory. Along with moments coming off as retreads of previous lyrics - like the punk rock love song of "Youngblood" feeling similar to the "American Idiot" song "She's a Rebel," or the dissentious souls raising hell in the suburbs in "Outlaws" that generally rehashes the narratives in Armstrong's rock opera stories - Armstrong's social critique come in bland one-liners ("All we want is weed and guns" in "Somewhere Now"; "What good is love and peace on Earth if it's exclusive?" in "Troubled Times") and counter-cultural statements that are cringe-inducing in their attempted edginess ("Give me cherry bombs and gasoline" in the eponymous song; "Smoking dope and mowing lawns / And I hated all the new trends" in "Too Dumb to Die").

Overall Impression — 6
Given the recent span of Green Day's catalog, where the quantity-over-quality output of "¡Uno!," "¡Dos!" and "¡Tré!" nearly eclipsed the streak of ambitiously operatic punk albums that had reinvigorated the band's career, "Revolution Radio" has a lot of give and take to it. Though its overall songwriting feels less cohesive and its lyrical output feels less compelling compared to "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown," the album does indeed show more focus than the sprawled-out 2012 album trilogy series, and its effort of recalibrating the band's punk style is a necessary step back in the right direction.

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    An ok album,it has some good tracks and it has some meh tracks.There's not a really bad one but overall this album doesn't add or take away nothing to the quality of Green Day discography IMO
    I completely agree! I've listened to it a few times, and there some decent songs at points, but was kind of meh at times.
    Jeez, what is with this reviewer. First he misses the mark on 13 voices and now revolution radio... Okay firstly, never reference prior albums, mention them yes but to judge this on what came before unjustly changes the scores. If a band has a great first album and a decent second album it isn't fair the second album is shat on because the first was better. And say the second is better, it's unfair to then lower it's score by saying well the prior album was quantity over quality. I liked the album, It isn't their best by far but it is a step in the right direction at least, it's an enjoyable one to listen to.
    13 Voices and Revolution Radio are 2 different albums, made by 2 different bands that are at different point in their careers. Whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinions, seeing how the tone of the review is similar, my guess is this guy is not a fan of the genre. I reviewed 13 Voices, and so far Revolution Radio feels like 3 guys making music for the love of it and not for any grandiose purpose
    TO me revolution radio feels more like them trying to get back to their roots after a long period of not being with it. A lot of the themes and styles are similar to their earlier albums rather than an evolution on the previous. I'm not saying thats bad, especially since their earlier stuff is highly regarded as great.
    The title track, Bang Bang, Bouncing off the Wall, and Forever Now are personal favorites. Though the entire album is enjoyable. Yeah, maybe it's not as epic as American Idiot, but I personally feel that it is a stronger album than 21st Century Breakdown.
    Honestly, I'm so sick of Green day's new lyrics. It's so military. Bombs, bullets, guns, gas, soldiers, etc.
    Yeah, IMO if BIllie Joe is gonna write so much about this stuff he should at least actually try and make a point. It feels as if he just complains about this shit nonstop but never goes anywhere with it
    why am i only one on this site that likes Uno, Dos and Tre?... i hear lot of shit on it but those almbus have such a variety of songs its cool to listen to
    Personally, I think this is their best work since American Idiot. It borrows elements from many of their earlier works, plus some definite outside influences, to create something fresh and different. To me, it's as if they took the over-the-top production from 21st Century Breakdown and combined it with both the ambtion of American Idiot and the punchiness of their earlier works, whilst at the same time keeping it short and to the point. Yeah, they chucked a mini rock opera in there, which while I do enjoy, I will concede that it still doesn't quite stack up with Jesus Of Suburbia or Homecoming. Although maybe my opinion on that might gradually change over time. My point here being that it wasn't weighed down with filler like 21st Century Breakdown or "the trio" were. To me, anybody that tries to call this a "pop-punk" album is automatically going to be disappointed. If I had to label it, I would have to call this a power-pop album more than anything. This is the sound of a band that has not only grown up, but acknowledges their roots rather than trying to replicate them. While I quite enjoy many of the tracks, it's hard for me to pick favourites at this point. However, I will say that Youngblood does really stand out. As a whole, I'd give this a solid 8/10. Maybe not their best overall (which, of course, really comes down to personal preference) but certainly their best work in a long time.
    I feel a lot of "inspiration" from The Vines on this album (don't want to call it "rip off" but anyway) For example "Youngblood" for me sounds very similar to The Vines' "Ride":
    For me, this is the best thing after American Idiot and Dookie. I'm waiting their concert in Krakow in January. And No Matter What Anyone Says, I think the album is great. Green Day is great.
    Ok, shit all over the best tracks on revrad, then compliment then at the end. In my opinion, still breathing is my favorite song on the album besides forever now. You cannot compact AIR to this. They aren't making AIR. They're making Revolution Radio. I put in their top 3...I love every single song on this album and there's a reason why it hit #1 on the charts. Nimrod! There will never be another American Idiot, there will never be another Album like Dookie either so please for God sake stop the comparisons! Yes they were great but this is new, new lyrics new sounds. They where going first a garage feel on this record and I think the whole thing is brilliant. This dudes a troll.
    Good stuff. Solid Green Day. I think this is what the trilogy would sound like if reduced to one disk.
    Really like Ordinary World. But given that I'm one of the bizarre fans who got into Green day through 21st Century Breakdown, this album isn't really my favourite.
    Favorite songs on the album are Still Breathing, Youngblood, and Forever Now. The rest of the album is still growing on me. I'm surprised the reviewer thought Still Breathing was a bore. I absolutely love when the tempo changes in Forever Now.
    Its unfair to compare everything they do to American Idiot: That is a singular masterpiece. True this album doesn't rise to that level, but compared to the trilogy, I think they did a damn fine job. The more I listen, the more I like it....
    This album has some great highlights but quite a lot of filler. Green Day has clearly grown up, and the more mature and emotional songs stand out the most to me (e.g. Still Breathing, Ordinary World, Somewhere Now), and they hit their punk stride with Bang Bang and RR. I just feel like their attempts to revive a "rebellious youth" attitude just didn't work at times, like with Outlaws (unconvincing lyrics and wow, does it drag), and I barely pay Bouncing Off the Walls/Too Dumb to Die much attention, though Youngbloods is a really fun and catchy song regardless. I wouldn't compare Forever Now to the genius of JOS in terms of "rock opera" style, but it's fun to see the band mess around with an unconventional song structure--the opening lyrics "My name is Billie Joe and I'm freaking out" is pretty emblematic of what I mean. Regardless of the critiques, I'm a longtime Green Day fan, and RR is more than a satisfying direction to me. I miss the faster tempos from their earlier days, but it's all enjoyable. 7.5/10.