Green Day -- 21st Century Breakdown

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200px-21st_Century_Breakdown_Album_Cover.jpg

Being a guy in his mid-40's who sometimes borders on rock-snobbery, I realize I am not suppose to like Green Day. Sure, Green Day was "cool" back when they were East Bay punks, but now with a second album in 5 years that wears its pretentious sermonizing on its sleeve, the sentiment that Green Day speaks to anyone outside it's target market of 10-14 year old boys is usually met with eyes rolled at best, derision at worst.

Pitchfork Media, self-assigned arbiters of cool music, led the anti-Green Day charge when they gave 21st Century Breakdown only 4.8 out of 10 stars and slagged the album with the following:

21st Century Breakdown is just as pompous and dumb, but it lacks even that old misguided passion. It's a slog, but not the kind that results when a band forgets the importance of editing when in the throes of "trying to say something." Its sprawl feels entirely unearned, three men worried about meeting expectations rather than driven by urgency. The performances are blandly professional, because any major-label rock band of Green Day's abilities could shit this stuff out in their sleep, and emotionally inert. This is the crafting of a modern epic as a dreary day-job routine.

Obviously I am writing this post because I disagree. Now don't ask me what the "story" is all about, I couldn't tell you and to be honest, I couldn't care less. What I like about 21st Century Breakdown is that it rawks. Hard. Is it big dumb rock? You bet your stack of Marshall amps it is but big dumb rock has always had a place in my musical tastes, especially when it marries punk sensibilities with arena-style guitar anthems.

Classic rock grandiosity, punk rock fury, pop song hooks, this album has it all. There is a blatant rip-off of a Hives song that absolutely kills and a shout out to G..L..O..R..I..A in another song.. The last 3rd of the album thunders with a ear-crunching trio of Horseshoes and Handgrenades, The Static Age, and 21 Guns -- songs not only thrilling but bringing the album to a rousing conclusion. The Static Age is particularly fun as it combines hard rock bombast with garage rock sentimentality.

So is 21st Century Breakdown derivative? No doubt. Are the lyrics kinda dumb? Yes. Does it try to hard to be profound? Oh God Yes. But it rocks out from start to finish and is a strong antidote to all the whiny buzz bands that all the cool kids seem to like.

32 Comments

I'll take the whiny buzz bands, thanks. Green Day blows.

Hey E I guess you wouldn't be interested in this cover of A Quick One While He's Away would you? :o(

http://www.imeem.com/people/PVGD09o/music/5HBgPtsK/green-day-a-quick-one-while-hes-away-the-who-cover/

While your naval gazing listening to Fleet Foxes and I'm getting stoopid with Green Day at least we can come together over Teenage Fan Club and Wilco.

I haven't even heard the new one, knock on wood, but I thought American Idiot was a bore--both musically and lyrically. What some found righteous anger, I thought pedantic sloganeering. Not that I disagreed with their politics--far from it--I just thought it was presented about as appealingly as a BMW covered in bumper stickers. About as deep, too.

We agree on a lot of music, free. Just not these guys. Or Weezer after Pinkerton. Or Deerhoof. ;-)

I have to chuckle when I hear griping about any rock act being derivative. Green Day borrows liberally from bands that borrowed from bands that borrowed ... Does Pitchfork think the Jam, Clash, MC5, Stooges, and the rest invented catchy, power chord anthems?

I read a quote regarding 'influences' from Ringo Starr once. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect that "everyone steals, the only sin is to steal a crappy song". I heard one of the singles from the Green Day album and it sounded just dandy to me. It made me want to slap on All Mod Cons or Singles Going Steady. Any band that conjures up comparisons like that is OK by me.

Paul Westerberg once said, "I listen to the radio. "What I like, I steal. What I don't, I write about."

I read a quote regarding 'influences' from Ringo Starr once. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something to the effect that "everyone steals, the only sin is to steal a crappy song". I heard one of the singles from the Green Day album and it sounded just dandy to me. It made me want to slap on All Mod Cons or Singles Going Steady. Any band that conjures up comparisons like that is OK by me.

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21st Century Breakdown is just as pompous and dumb, but it lacks even that old misguided passion. It's a slog, but not the kind that results when a band forgets the importance of editing when in the throes of "trying to say something." Its sprawl feels entirely unearned, three men worried about meeting expectations rather than driven by urgency. The performances are blandly professional, because any major-label rock band of Green Day's abilities could shit this stuff out in their sleep, and emotionally inert. This is the crafting of a modern epic as a dreary day-job routine.

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