Green Day Returns Respectably on ‘Revolution Radio’
Green Day delivers a respectable, well-rounded album with ‘Revolution Radio.’ It’s not a classic, but definitely satisfying all said and done.
Following a four-year hiatus, Green Day returns with Revolution Radio. Revolution Radio follows a trio of albums from the punk-revivalist band. Unfortunately, the trio of albums didn’t perform particularly well on the charts. On Revolution Radio, Billie Joe Armstrong and company have to be looking to rekindle the success of American Idiot (2004) and 21st Century Breakdown (2009). Does Revolutionary Radio have the ingredients? For the most part, yes.
“Somewhere Now” kicks off Revolutionary Radio subtly (at first), though the lyrics carry weight:
“I’m running late to somewhere now / that I don’t want to be / where the future and promises ain’t what it used to be…how did a life on the wild side…ever get so dull.”
Musical subtlety doesn’t last, triggered by the final line of the aforementioned lyric. The energy level increases on the chorus:
“All grown up and medicated / I’m high on cellular waves / I put the “riot” in patriot / and we all die in threes.”
Billie Joe Armstrong and company seem to question the next move in life, examining the current, mundane lot.
“I got a fever for the violent behavior / I’m sweatin’ bullets like a modern Romeo.” “Bang Bang” is about mass shootings, according to a Rolling Stone interview. It features a killer driving bass line, “balls to the walls” guitars, and pummeling drums. The majority of the song is quite loud. Vocally aggressive and unapologetic, Armstrong is fiery AF. The lyrics suggest anger, angst, and the lust for attention. The chorus confirms the sick message of the protagonist.
“Bang, bang, give me fame / shoot me up to entertain / I am a semi-automatic lonely boy / you’re dead, I’m well fed / give me death or give me head / daddy’s little psycho and mommy’s little soldier.”
On title track “Revolution Radio,” Green Day puts middle fingers up in the air as they denounce police brutality, inequality, and social media. Social and political issues have been part of the band’s script for years. Lightning quick in tempo, “Revolution Radio” represents punk and the punk-revivalist spirit at its best.
“Say goodbye to the ones that we love…/say hello to the cops on patrol…/say a prayer for the ones that we love.” Standout “Say Goodbye” is muscular in sound, once more tackling the police brutality and its ramifications. Built on repetition, the intent is to drive the point home that things in the United States clearly need to change. On the choruses which vary, Armstrong confirms the tribulation and turmoil, with lyrics “Oh lord, have mercy on my soul” and “The city of damage control.”
“Outlaws” reflects back on the band’s youth:
“Life after youth / faded in twilight / the dawn of a criminal in bloom.”
Given the title, Green Day are characterized as youthful badasses, using words and phrases to indicate outlaw behavior: criminal, delinquents, and hooligans. All said and done, Armstrong asserts, “We destroyed suburbia / when we were outlaws / the outlaws of forever.” “Bouncing Off the Wall” follows, beginning quicker and more assertively. Aggressive,” it’s a fun record that is short in duration. It’s not homerun, but worthwhile.
“Still Breathing” highlights a number of unfortunate scenarios, including addiction (“I’m like a junkie tying off for the last time”). Despite such scenarios, the record ultimately looks at the positive side: “I’m still breathing.” After beginning with restraint, the record successfully builds up over its course, showcasing impressive musicality compared to other Green Day records. Essentially, Armstrong and the people described in the song have experienced tribulation. He is asking for someone to come and save them through the course of the storm.
“Cause I’m still breathing / cause I’m still breathing on my own / My head’s above the rain and roses / making my way, my way.”
“Youngblood / Youngblood / Youngblood / she’s my little Youngblood.” The infectious “Youngblood” is an ode to a ride or die. In this case, that ride or die is Adrienne Armstrong, Billie Joe’s wife of 22 years. Basically, to Billie Joe, she’s the…cat’s meow. Despite his flaws, he proclaims:
“She’s my weakness / f*ckin’ genius / swear to God and I’m not even superstitious.”
Like “Outlaws,” Armstrong reminisces back to his past on “Too Dumb to Die”:
“I was a high school atom bomb / going off on the weekends / smoking dope and mowing lawns / and I hated all the new trends.”
Ultimately, Armstrong characterizes his dreams as dumb, so much so they won’t die. One of the cleverer lyrics is a reference to the song “Over the Rainbow,” intentional or not:
“I feel like a cello / lost somewhere over the rainbow / way up high, too scared to dream / but too dumb to die.”
“Troubled Times” dives back into social issues. On the first verse, Armstrong asks the question, “What good is love and peace on earth / when it’s exclusive?” He goes on during the second verse to ask, “What part of history we’ve learned / when it’s repeated?” The point is simple, as stated on the refrain: “We live in troubled times.” True. Next.
Spirited penultimate song “Forever Now” is divided into three parts: “I’m Freaking Out,” “A Better Way to Die,” and “Somewhere.” The song as a whole is personal, and references previous songs “Somewhere Now” and “Revolution Radio.” Armstrong references memories and once more, mundane living. All in all, it’s exceptionally well assembled. Call it what it is – epic. “Ordinary World” concludes solidly, giving Armstrong more of a singer/songwriter moment that contrasts “Forever Now.” He sings it soundly.
All in all, Green Day delivers another enjoyable, well-rounded album with Revolution Radio. Where three albums was two-too-many in 2012, Revolution Radio feels just right. It’s not a transcendent affair, but it does successfully address important issues and feelings that are universally relatable. Armstrong doesn’t miss a beat. As a whole, Green Day definitely don’t sound their age (Armstrong is 44!).
Gems: “Bang Bang,” “Revolution Radio,” “Say Goodbye,” “Still Breathing” “Youngblood” & “Forever Now”