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Green Day - American Idiot


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 Terror administration.

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 concerts).

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 Day.

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 and reflective.

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.

 

 

Track listing:
1. American Idiot
2. Jesus of Suburbia
3. City Of The Damned
4. I Don't Care
5. Dearly Beloved
6. Tales Of Another Broken Home
7. Holiday
8. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
9. Are We Waiting
10. St. Jimmy
11. Give Me Novacaine
12. She's a Rebel
13. Extraordinary Girl
14. Letterbomb
15. Wake Me Up When September Ends
16. The Death Of St. Jimmy
17. East 12th St.
18. Nobody Likes You
19. Rock and Roll Girlfriend
20. We're Coming Home Again
21. Whatsername

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