Green Day Make Punk Arena-Sized

May 15th, 2009 // 7 Comments

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a roundup of reactions to 21st Century Breakdown, the eighth studio album by Green Day:


• ”The Who and Big Country for the fourth generation thinking “Blank Generation” is about them.” [Christopher R. Weingarten, 1000TimesYes]


• “Ultimately, the question isn’t whether multiplatinum success has cost Green Day the right to protest, only whether that protest feels vital. It’s hard to know what to make of taunts like ‘You’re a sacrificial suicide / Like a dog that’s been sodomized.’ As with many good punks before him, Armstrong is better at voicing gripes than offering solutions, which makes him a tricky choice to lead a revolution. If we’re gonna come with you, you gotta tell us where we’re goin’.” [Steve Kandell, Spin]


• ”But the most common phrases can feel fresh when shouted out in an arena, and that’s exactly what thrilled rock fans will be doing all summer as Green Day reasserts its dominance. Every kid should rediscover the language of questioning and self-assertion that Armstrong mines. Everyone should have a chance to yell ‘Revolution!’ while a rock band plays. It’s wonderful that, after all this time, Green Day is still finding new ways to make that possible.” [Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times]


• ”Like Pete Townshend in the Who, [Armstrong]’s lucky to have rhythm section pals like Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool; those two haven’t lost a step. Like U2 in 2001, he’s lucky to be here and wants to do something wide-screen and out-sized with his time. Like almost nobody else in rock, he makes it seem like fun to be so ambitious, as if it’s something we should all want to be. No small feat, that.” [Joe Gross, Austin American-Statesman]


• ”The exuberant pop-punk of old has morphed into epic Who-style stadium-rock, with thundering drums underpinning windmill chords and shout-from-the-rooftops choruses. Rock operas demand nothing less, and Green Day delivers.” [Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune]


• ”Part of the thrill on 21st Century Breakdown is that the Green Day guys don’t need to be pushing themselves this hard. It’s not like there’s anyone left for them to compete with. (What, Sponge are gonna do a three-disc adaptation of Moby Dick? Probz not!) Yet the extra strain is audible in the music, and every song adds to the overall vibe of grown men trying way too hard to communicate, challenging themselves along with their audience. They revitalize the whole idea of big-deal rock stars with something to say about the real world. They’re keeping promises they never even made, promises left behind by all the high-minded Nineties bands that fell apart along the way. If it’s a continual surprise that Green Day are the ones to pick up the torch and run with it, that’s part of what makes 21st Century Breakdown so fresh and vital — Green Day sound like they’re as shocked as anyone else.” [Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone]

  1. yes, but what does Pitchfork think???

  2. The best thing about this album is that there’s 18 actual 4 minute songs on it, no more of the American Idiot song-suite bs. Other than that the only thing you can say about it is that is sounds like Green Day.

  3. it’s $4.99 at amazon mp3, btw.

  4. @Maura: Ha! My friend paid $14 to buy it from iTunes last night and is pissed.

  5. @yoga: They’re all waiting to see what their cool friends think before they form an opinion.

  6. I still think “Know Your Enemy” sounds alot like “Infected” by Bad Religion. Except that, you know, “Infected” was a good song.

  7. When did this 3 chord punk-pop band become “deep?” I listened to American Idiot a few times and thought it was another Green Day record with longer songs, and that bummed me out. It’s sad to me that they are somehow standardbearers of serious, meaningful rock and roll. They’re perfectly fine.

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