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Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown

Modern/Alternative Rock
Rating: 3.0/5.0

In 1990, Green Day appeared as the future of post-punk movement; however, many were suspicious thanks to their glorification of the lethargy of wasted youth rather than the snarl of rebellion and revolution. When they advanced into overt mainstream commercialism with 'Dookie,' suspicions were verified: they were just another hard rock cum melodic pop rock band in punk clothing and poor eyeliner. Punks knew the 'real' deal was really fake.

Then in 2004, faster than Bill Clinton could reinvent himself in a crisis, Green Day struck with 'American Idiot,' a loose collection of vague protest songs against the W-era, post 9/11 world. The lesson was deliberate and ominous: life is hopeless, so in the end just kill yourself (which is what the hero did).

'21st Century Breakdown' is divided into three acts: "Heroes and Cons," "Charlatans and Saints," and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades," and follows a young couple, Christian and Gloria, through the a post-Bush era bankrupt world. Philosophically, we do not fare any better: hopelessness is the mother of a despondent unforgiving determinism that sucks the life (if there ever was any to begin with) out of us to our grave. It seems Billie Joe Armstrong has been living in cave for last two and a half years and has not heard of Barack Obama and the future of hope. Prepared to be depressed.

Much of the lyrical content of '21st Century Breakdown is nonsensical and inane. However, when meaning is found it is unpoetic, unperceptive and pathetically hopeless: phrases 'my generation is zero,' 'we're so pathetic, or 'I am my own worst enemy' barely scratch the surface of Armstrong's lost and faithless worldview. Unfortunately, Armstrong has become the American idiot.

Alternatively, on the musical side we fare better with '21st Century Breakdown.' But don't get your hopes to high. As a whole, this work is much better in craftsmanship than 'American Idiot.' Green Day definitely sounds more comfortable and mature in their pursuit. However like 'American Idiot,' with the exception of a few appealing song, there is little that is memorable as Green Day merely works their tried and true formula. Mostly, the whole motif of the album is psuedo-punk languishing in the grandiose charm of a late 70's and early 80's bombastic musical metaphor.

Songs of note include the title track that offers enough variation to have a prog rock tone. 'East Jesus Nowhere' probably has the best punk/hard rock arrangement on the album even though it's anti-religion lyrics are meaningless and unconvincing rhetoric. There's a Beatlesque touch on 'Last Night On Earth,' but that's hardly novel. For simple pop accessibility, 'Last Of The American Girls' is probably the most catchy and melodic piece with the most coherent lyrics. After this, I was mostly bored throughout. If it were not for the need to read lyrics, I could have easily pushed 'skip' and kept moving on just to get to the end of this depressing rock opera.

Green Day still does not impress me. Though quite strong in their craft and presence, all this has been done before (by them). If you couple this with the horrifying despondency of Armstrong's worldview, then you might as well overdose on Vicodin now. Otherwise, like Green Day, you've become the American idiot without hope in this world.

In Short

Green Day still does not impress me. Though quite strong in their craft and presence, all this has been done before (by them). If you couple this with the horrifying despondency of Armstrong's worldview, then you might as well overdose on Vicodin now. Otherwise, like Green Day, you've become the American idiot without hope in this world.

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