It has a been a hot minute since we have heard anything from the Pop Punk staple Green Day. The ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy, the band last project was released in 2014 and was surprisingly forgettable for a Band that is know for creating life altering foot tapping Punk Jams. Since then the band has appeared to be in turmoil with the announcement of a break after their last tour. With the band’s Front-man Billie Joe Armstrong going to rehab for substance abuse some wondered it they would be calling it quits. However, they are back delivering an album that Armstrong says is about “the culture of mass shooting that happens in America mixed with narcissistic social media.”
The opening track Somewhere Now eases us into Armstrong troubled mind with the opening lyrics “I’m on way to somewhere Now/ I don’t want to be/ Where the future and promises/ Ain’t what it used to be.” Then the power chords kick in and unfortunately Green Day delivers a formulaic and uninspired pop punk performance. Every track delivers nothing new and lacks the punch of their earlier work while struggling to find the heart that has become their signature.
The title track Revolution Radio tackles Armstrong’s concerns about the recently developed culture of mass shooting in America. He attacks the problem as angry protester unsure of the solution “Scream with your hands up in the sky/like you want to testify/For the life that’s been deleted/Sing like a rebel’s lullaby/Under the stars and stripes/For the lost souls that were cheated.” While this track is classic Green Day what it lacks is what the whole album lacks something new. There is not a lot of true substance, in its place are lyrics that barely could be considered criticism and the same chord progression we have heard Green Day use for years.
Still Breathing is my favorite song off the album and it possibly the most sincere song on this record. Armstrong praises that somehow he is still breathing stating “I’m like an ambulance that’s turning on the sirens/Oh, I’m still alive” tapping into the raw emotion that only a punk rocker who has finally kicked his substance abuse problem can. Yet it highlights the exact problem the rest of the album has, behind the entrancing pop punk rhythms, and seemingly relevant lyrics lies little substance. Songs like Outlaws, Forever Now, and Young Blood might sound good initially they lack the hall mark of great punk songs emotional resonance.
Revolution Radio is not a return to form for Green Day, rather it is more of an evolution. They are no longer a bunch of young punks kicking and screaming about the neuroses and politics, that much is clear. Revolution Radio shows a level of maturity from the band, asking their listeners just how dark the world around us is theses days, and is there a clear solution? While that sounds like an epic idea for an album Green Day cannot convert that into anything meaningful. Revolution Radio’s problem is not that it is a bad pop punk album, it has catchy lyrics and chord progressions, its problem is that it lacks the substance required to be even a noteworthy album, go listen to Jeff Rostenstock’s Worry instead.