Friday, May 22, 2009

21st Century Breakdown - Green Day

2004 was a significant year for Green Day: with the release of American Idiot it was clear that one of the biggest punk acts had chosen a new direction strongly influenced by pop-punk energies combined with a grand, almost progressive, musical score theme that was reminiscent of rock opera. Now, five years later, Green Day offers us the follow-up to their newfound style that might as well be a second album for what feels like a completely new band.

21st Century Breakdown is not the album that old school Green Day fans are looking out for, it is, in fact, a strong continuation of their new direction that favours the more melodic and anthem-based songs that American Idiot introduced. While not nearly as progressive at times 21st Century Breakdown remains to prove that Green Day have matured into what can only possibly be described as one of the most unique pop-rock bands churning out anthems today. The songs ‘Christian’s Inferno’, ‘Horseshoes and Handgrenades’ and ‘American Eulogy’ provide energetic guitar driven pop-rock anthems that are sure to please their more angst-ridden and pop-loving audiences, while the sorrow of ‘Restless Heart Syndrome’ provides a great contrast. The pop-epics of ‘Holiday’ and ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ make a return with ’21 Guns’, the My Chemical Romance-inspired ‘Viva La Gloria’, and closing track ‘See the Light’ reinforcing that Green Day have found a new direction that suits. Numerous times throughout the album there are catchy tinges of early rock’n’roll pop (‘Last of the American Girls’, ‘Static Age’, etc) that would not be out of place at American high school proms whilst being contrasted by the likes of ‘Peacemaker’ with its fast-tempo acoustic guitar that oddly would suit a stage production. In fact the album’s subject matter would almost certainly provide enough material for some kind of musical with its (albeit pop-infused) commentary on the state of Western society at the beginning of a new century – hence the album’s name.

While hardcore Green Day fans of old will not appreciate the continuation of American Idiot’s pop-rock anthems, 21st Century Breakdown is an album that will grow on listeners who are not initially hooked by the melodies and altogether proves that Green Day have found a winning formula.
4 stars

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