It has been 4 years since the release of Green Day’s trilogy albums ‘Uno, Dos & Tre’, a body of work that ran from good to mediocre, by the bands own admission. A lot of expectation has been riding on the release of ‘Revolution Radio’, can they deliver the goods? Well, yes and no.
Let me start by saying, I wanted to like this album, Some of the material on ‘Revolution Radio’ could be amongst the strongest material Green Day have released to this point, from a standpoint of musical growth, social commentary and just great frickin tunes, I’ll focus on them for now.
‘Bang, Bang’ with it’s commentary of the glorification of American gun culture and title track ‘Revolution Radio’ who’s inspiration came from a Black Lives Matter protest Billie Joe attended in New York, both rocket along with melodies to die for although Rev Rad, containing some platitudes that wouldn’t be out of place in a sixth form sociology students notebook ‘legalise the truth’ and ‘antisocial media’ being two eye rollers. In 2005 it may have seemed quite right on and ‘fuck yeah, stick it to the man’ now seems a little embarrassing, like seeing a young photo of yourself in a polyester shirt with flames on, you thought it bad ass at the time, now it seems a little lame. But enough of the negativity, this is the positive half of the review dammit! The aforementioned songs burst through a lacklustre selection of opening tracks like a freight train.
‘Still Breathing’ has an almost minimalist approach for a modern day Green Day track, Billie Joe’s voice almost sounds stripped back on the verses, in a very good way. No strung out rock star histrionics, just a decent tune. ‘Troubled Times’ toying again with social commentary concerned with the way the world is currently heading mixed up in an ‘American idiot’ era production style but not quite as overblown. Album closer ‘Ordinary World’ is a stripped down acoustic number, Just Billie Joe’s voice, an acoustic guitar and some minimal electric guitar in the background. It’s a bare bones, vulnerable ode to a life Billie Joe can’t have but may secretly want if the other half of the album is anything to go by.
The other half of Revolution Radio I felt was very reminiscent of the tracks that could have been considered filler on ‘Uno, Dos, Tre’, which is infuriating as everyone, Green Day included, knows they are better than that. Let start with album opener ‘Somewhere Now’, first line of the first song of the new album, your statement of intent after a 4 year hiatus ‘ I’m running late to somewhere now I don’t want to be’, so you’re glad to be back then guys?…guys?
Maybe I’m just looking too cynically at the whole thing but it continues. On the track ‘Outlaws’, it’s almost as if Billie Joe Armstong is becoming very aware that he’s middle age and still playing in Green Day only they aren’t as young and infallibly on point as they once were, it is so contrived you can almost picture the slowed down vintage live footage that would make up its music video. ‘Youngblood’ rattles along quite nicely until the rather careless, almost throwaway line ‘I want to hold you like a gun’ at odds with the message of media glorifying gun violence they so eloquently put across in ‘Bang, Bang’, a little hypocritical which is a shame.
Anyway, I don’t want to spend this article ragging on this album. It isn’t an awful album, not by a long shot, however, it’s not a particularly great one either. Listen to it and make your own mind up. You will definitely like at least half to the tracks present but I can’t help but wonder how many more like me will finish the experience feeling more than a little let down.