Review: Jack Foley
THE band once hailed as the godfathers of power-punk decide to
tone things down a little, in favour of making a more heavyweight
political point, and the results are just as incendiary.
American Idiot is the sound of a disenchanted band that
has become frustrated and alienated by Bush’s post-War On
It is one of anguish, pain and confusion, that screams out to
be listened to several times over, in order to fully take in all
that it has to say.
It is also the sound of a band that has matured in a way that
few could have predicted; making Green Day a surprisingly effective
weapon in the US battle to get rid of its president (a battle
intensifying with the likes of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit
9/11 and REM's Vote For Change
What's more, it's also an audacious concept album, being centred
around two five-part, nine minute epics (Jesus Of Suburbia
and Homecoming), which demonstrate the band's willingness
to stretch themselves artistically.
Jesus of Suburbia, for instance, starts off with a typically
infectious Green Day workout, before slowing down a little for
City of the Damned, which almost goes into Good Riddance
(Time Of Your Life) on several occasions.
Taken as a whole, it's a lively, giddy punk variant on Queen's
Bohemian Rhapsody format which works surprisingly well
- cramming in everything we have come to know and love about Green
Yet it does not form the highpoint of the album.
These come in the form of the title track, American Idiot,
with its gutsy lyrics and breakneck guitars, which rages
with the aggression and infectiousness that has typified the band's
biggest hits and best loved material, while benefiting greatly
from the production values of Rob Cavallo.
Yet, if it typifies the album at its loudest and most angry,
there are also moments of intense poignancy, as in Boulevard
of Broken Dreams, with heartfelt lyrics such as 'I walk alone/my
shadow's the only one that walks beside me/my shallow heart's
the only thing that's beating/sometimes I wish someone out there
will find me'.
And Are We The Waiting - a drum-heavy, old-school
terrace chant-track that finds Green Day at their most melancholy
Strong, too, are the no-less emotive likes of Give Me Novocaine
and Extraordinary Girl which prove the band to be
equally adept at crossing genres, with elements of classic American
rock, sun-kissed harmonies, and psychedelia mixed in with the
stomping melodic punk that they are more commonly associated with.
The undisputed highpoint, for me, however, is the anthemic Wake
Me Up When September Ends - an achingly beautiful song, which
finds Billie Joe Armstrong's vocals at their most disarming.
When he sings 'as my memory rests/but never forgets what I lost/wake
me up when September ends', you will probably feel like shedding
a tear with him.
The track probably rates as one of the finest of their career,
and is fittingly placed on an album that really ought to become
one of the classics of all time.