Revolutionary rockers Green Day released their twelfth full-length studio album October 7th and it's nothing less than what you would expect from these members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Revolution Radio is jam packed with moments of sorrow, reflection, excitement, testimony, and power. The album has been in the works for a few years now, and with the band back on the road, I expect this album to take off in ways the band hasn't seen since 2005. The twelve tracks give pieces of past albums, from Dookie, Warning, American Idiot, and 21st Century Breakdown. Influences range from the Black Lives Matter movement, to addiction, to love. These varied tracks are expertly woven into a masterpiece of Green's Day's best aspects, future and present. Tre Cool offers what lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong calls "his best drumming" ever. Mike Dirnt is as great as ever, providing the deeply respected bass lines he's been known for since 1994. And Billie Joe Armstrong is in his element, creating lyrics both catchy and moving from start to finish. I recommend you pick up this album immediately; you won't regret it.
1. Somewhere Now
This opening track is fierce, offering a premise to the extraordinary craft of the rest of the album. I pick up on mostly The Who as an influence for this anthem. Armstrong begins soft, claiming "I never wanted to compromise/ a bargain with my soul". The next line launches into a head-banger, clearly referencing his recent struggle to become sober following his addiction to medication and alcohol: "How did life on the wild side/ ever get so dull". This is Armstrong experimenting with his influences and personal preferences. The song comes in bursts of soft lamenting verses and anxious, demanding choruses. I love this opener for the album. It's presenting listeners to a new sound from Green Day without being too experimental or too similar to their past.
2. Bang Bang
The first single from Revolution Radio, affectionately shortened to RevRad, is this banger. The song is written from the perspective of a mass shooter and begins with a news report of a tragedy. The subject matter addresses Green Day's past ventures into political albums. The band's greatest feature is being able to tackle tough and frightening subject matters, while remaining catchy and upbeat. Towards the end of this song, Tre Cool launches into an incredible drum solo, sure to catch the attention of any listener. The shooter is adamant about becoming a celebrity, claiming "I've got a fever for a violent behavior/ I'm sweating bullets like a modern Romeo". Mike Dirnt offers strong backing vocals, giving the song depth from all sides. The shooter again cries, "bang bang/ give me fame". Despite its political affiliation, this song is already toppling the alternative charts.
3. Revolution Radio
As the title track for the album, this song lives up to all expectations. It's a return to classic Green Day. Critics argue this song offers nothing new for Green Day's discography, and to be honest, they're right. But as a fan of classic Green Day, I can assure you this song is a comfort. Although staying in your comfort zone is a suicide wish for all artists, when the case around one song, I'm sure Green Day can slip past the curse. Rolling Stone reports, "The idea came to him in New York two years ago when he ran into a Black Lives Matter protest; before he knew it, Armstrong had gotten out of his car and was walking up Eighth Avenue with the throng. "I was screaming, 'Hands up, don't shoot,' " he says. "I felt like I was on the right side of history". The song clearly addresses recent racial protests and serves as an anthem for all social justice-seekers: give me rage, like there’s tear gas in the crowd/do you wanna live out loud". If you were already a fan of Green Day, you were expecting this song. Green Day have always advocated for minority rights and Armstrong frequently posts support for the BLM movement. I couldn't be more proud of this trio for vocalizing support in a polarizing time period for civil rights.
4. Say Goodbye
This song ranks, for me personally, as one of my favorites from the album. The sound it offers is unlike most other Green Day songs, and sounds like a track straight out of an action movie trailer. I suspect this is the song Billie Joe Armstrong plays bow guitar, like legend Jimmy Page. Lyrics such as "violence on the rise/like a bullet in the sky" offer up more political themes, but in a new and experimental theme. Drummer Tre Cool can be heard screaming in the background in his typical Tre-like fashion. I can't wait to hear this song live. The pure, unfiltered emotion is sure to be a crowd favorite.
I cannot give this song enough praise. Outlaws a perfect mix of soft, crooning and an anthem-like chorus. Without this song, the album would feel incomplete. Amidst the fiery passion of the rest of the album, this song is a slow burn. I adore the song's ending, which makes my heart fill with love for this amazing band. This is a modern day love song, two people making it work in a world often feels like it's falling to pieces. The best lyrics are at the very end, where foreshadowing for the end of the album can already be found: "I found a knife by the railroad tracks/ you took a train and you can't go back/ forever now/ forever now you'll roam".
6. Bouncing Off the Walls
This song reels back listeners to the fun side of Green Day. It's entitled "Bouncing off the Walls", and will make you feel like you're doing just that. The traditional Green Day riffs are mixed with upbeat and exciting lyrics. This is the perfect song to be jamming in the car with your friends to. Armstrong cries "we're all bloody freaks/ and we'll give you the creeps/ chasing fireflies and zeroes". You can't help but to dance, jump around, and yell when this song comes on. At just two minutes and thirty seconds, this is the short burst of adrenaline listeners need before launching into the second half of the album.
7. Still Breathing
Here it is, the song Green Day fans were both excited and nervous to hear. As Armstrong's leading song about his experience through addiction, this falls nothing short of inspirational. The title alone sets listeners up for the emotional, poignant ride "Still Breathing" has to offer. Unlike what I had expected, the song begins hopeful and upbeat. Armstrong's revelation that he's "still alive" and "still breathing on my own" is enough to send me to tears. He addresses his hit to rock bottom, but his hopeful realization that he's made it through still breathing. The most hard hitting lyrics are relevant to anyone who has suffered a traumatic experience: "as I walked out on the ledge/ are you scared to death to live". I could not be prouder of Billie for his sobriety. I have been a fan since fourth grade, and watched the infamous IHeart Radio Festival meltdown live. His journey has only strengthened his musical ability, and this track is the best example.
Green Day return back to their upbeat sound in this love song. Billie Joe Armstrong wrote this song for his wife of 22 years, Adrienne. This song bypasses the soft and cheesy lyrics of most love songs and focuses on the wild and exciting parts of a relationship. It's refreshing to hear a love song that doesn't make me want to vomit. Armstrong asks, "are you stranded/ like I'm stranded/ do you want to watch the world fall to pieces?". Nobody can blend love and punk rock quite like Mr. Armstrong. This is another song I'm ecstatic to hear live. Filled with passion and irony, I have nothing but respect for this song.
9. Too Dumb to Die
Now for my favorite song on the album. I'm obsessed with the soft intro, catchy chorus, and bleeding passion this song portrays. The guitar kicks in, and Armstrong cries, "I was high school atom bomb/ going off on the weekends". Even at 44, this songwriter can accurately capture what it's like to chase your dreams, no matter how wild and extravagant they may be. Billie reaches back to his teenage days, when he refused to stop chasing the idea of becoming a rock star alongside his best friends. I find myself yelling these lyrics every time the song comes on. I feel a kinship with him, knowing I also have what some may call "crazy" dreams for my future. There's nothing more soothing for the dreamer soul than to hear someone struggling mutually to come back down from the clouds.
10. Troubled Times
As the title may suggest, this song returns back to the political theme. Direct references to oppression are found mixed amongst the song's saddened tone: "what good is love and peace on earth?/ when it's exclusive". I couldn't agree more with this song's theme. With Donald Trump, a misogynistic, racist, piece of garbage as a leading candidate for this upcoming election, I too feel frightened for the future. This sound is eerie, as it should be, connecting fear to the future. As hopeful as this record may be, it doesn't fail to address the worries most Americans have for their country.
11. Forever Now
When a song begins, "my name is Billie/ and I'm freaking out", you know it's destined to be great. This song's title and theme are direct references to the opening track, and bring the album to full cohesiveness. It addresses all the albums themes in one, long anthem. On the subject of his addiction, Armstrong pleads, "if this is what you call the good life/ I want another way to die". He also claims he "wants to start a revolution". As for ties to the album's more poignant tone, Armstrong also provides "I'm standing at the edge of the world/ and it's giving me the chills". "Somewhere Now" is brought back in, this time with a new twist: "I never wanted to compromise a bargain with my soul/ how did a life on the wild side/ ever get so full". Every song can be traced back from this essential piece to the record. I couldn't imagine a better way to wrap up one of their best albums.
12. Ordinary World
Although this song originated from a movie of the same title Armstrong recently starred in, it fits perfectly within the album. This soft, acoustic piece is calming, relaxing, yet questioning: "where can I find the city of shining light/ in an ordinary world". Asking where ambition and success can be found amongst a life of dull and boring routine, Armstrong knows "what we have is more than enough". Listen to this song in a quiet, comfortable space with your eyes closed. Your heart, like mine, will swell up with pride and comfort. This band has continued to better themselves, and I already cannot wait to see what else they have in store.