alternative / rock
In their 30 year career as a band, Green Day has had some time to experiment and drift slightly from their pop-punk roots. The trio had gone semi-acoustic on Warning (2000), and put out two “rock operas” with mega-successful American Idiot (2004) and the less successful 21st Century Breakdown (2009). In Revolution Radio they go back to the bottom of the barrel and try to scrape up whatever dregs they can find of their old punk rock days.
Unfortunately, they can’t even succeed in that. Though they may lead you to believe this is a punk record, you should expect to hear an arena-rock mashup of Boston and Fall Out Boy’s newer material. Their watered-down generic rock sound clashes with their image of rebellion and punk rock. Green Day use their character-less electric guitars to build the foundation of their songs, and typically add nothing else to fill out the sound.
The record begins with “Somewhere Now,” an acoustic ballad that, as mentioned above, strongly resembles Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.” It’s pleasant, until you are prompted to turn down the volume of your speakers as you are bombarded with overly-loud electric guitars. This is one of my major problems with this record. The first 15 seconds of each song begins much too quiet, and later gets much too loud. On your first listen you’ll find yourself constantly adjusting the volume. This is not only a personal problem I have with it, but a technical problem as well.
Green Day claim this album was recorded on their own without a producer, and it shows. Crackling, unwanted distortion, and overall poor sound quality caused by clipping (meaning a sound was recorded too loudly, causing distortion) can be heard throughout the album, most noticeably on the first second of “Bouncing Off the Wall.” It’s a common rookie mistake, but should not be present on a professionally-made record. This, along with the disjointed volume levels, quiet vocals, and overall flat sound make me think that even I could mix and record this album better.
Although, it could be viewed as a positive that the vocals are hard to hear. Lyrically, this album is the scribbles in a middle schooler’s notebook. The themes of Revolution Radio are obvious from the title, but are handled poorly, with lyrics that are laughable at best. The title track, “Revolution Radio,” is an uninvited earworm, it’s lyrical content ranging from meaningless to cringe-worthy. It’s politically-charged, but avoids saying anything interesting. Some of my favorite lines from the album include “I’m a rough boy,” “this is how we roll,” and “we’re living in troubled times.” Deep stuff.
Green Day are getting old. In their attempt to disprove this, they end up solidifying the point even further. This album should be avoided at all costs. Fans of Green Day’s prior material risk having their favorite band ruined by listening to this album. Their ability to stay together and consistently release music for 30 years is admirable, but I think they need a break.
Listen to Green Day’s “Say Goodbye”: