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“DD Review: Green Day – Father of All….”

Score: 9/10

Of all the “pitfalls” that could have theoretically affected this new Green Day album, “disorienting tendencies” probably falls closer to the realm of “good problems” than “father of all motherfu**ers,” as it were. Enter opening title track, then, apropos, which, after a brief burp of standard Green Day-issue guitar fuzz, pillows out into this isolated, like Wilson Pickett drum beat type thing, only to curdle into this screeching vocal falsetto, sounding closer to Scissor Sisters territory than anything this band has yet done to date. On the whole, it’s an energetic opener which takes this off-kilter singing style and lassoes it through a prototypical obstacle chords of breakneck power pop, virile enough to balance things out and immediately distinguish the LP as otherworldly but approachable. With its cocksure track-one strut, it vaguely called to mind The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” but what it really reminded me of was The White Stripes’ “Blue Orchid,” which also has a weird falsetto the band had hitherto never unveiled.

“Fire, Ready, Aim,” then [1], starts out with this jagged sort of guitar sound that also plays as premiere within the band’s catalogue, sounding like something that’s being played through a cheap push lawn mower. Things sidle along briskly enough, though, and the proceedings start to accumulate signs of Revolution Radio [2] influence – the brisk, choppy power chord runs that carry a proclivity to minor and to bombastic incredulity or satire. But still, the elephant in the room up to this point is the exact vocal timbre, which on this cut is still high but I think sounds like it’s still in chest, and sounds a little bit like a tamer Pelle Almqvist [3] as a eunuch. As for whether this makes the music better or worse, I’d probably vote for better, not even for any neuroses I MYSELF had but just to silence the phalanx of meat-tearing Green Day haters that are sure to line up by the droves and say how this is exactly like every other Green Day album, which it obviously isn’t.

I’m obviously being fairly laudatory up this point as I’m generally a big fan of this band and seem to be of this album as well thus far, so it’s only fair to offer one certain disclaimer: this sucker is only 26 minutes long. I know this probably won’t bother many millennials who come from the age of singles, of rock music’s depletion in vitality and importance, and, maybe, just maybe, shortened attention spans. It does, though, stick in my craw just a tad, as I’m very much a fan of American Idiot which has two 10-minute songs and Nimrod which has 18 tracks (although I did just notice the scrappy, caustic Insomniac, their furiously snotty follow-up to their commercial breakthrough Dookie, is only 34 minutes, so perhaps that is some consolation).

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs also generally seem like an influence on this record and their tinge comes particularly to the fore on “Oh Yeah!”, which embodies the sort of ethereal indie rock that would feature maracas in the percussion and a slower, deeper musical vibe imbued. Part of this has to do with making the guitars really thick and opaque within the mix, the way Interpol might be prone to doing, emphasizing texture and production over playing technique (typically Billie Joe though has been pretty organic and bare-bones in the way he transmits sound to board). Anyway, “Oh Yeah!” marks the first track on the album, at slot three, that has Armstrong’s voice protruding barely, not swathed in fuzzy treatment or gimmicky technique. To be honest, I sort of liked the gimmicks better, for their deviation from the erstwhile GD norm in both artistry and album-making strategy, with Armstrong’s plaintive whine in all its naked platitude beginning to wear a tad thin at this point in his career.

But how’s this for another disclaimer: “Meet Me on the Roof” got my head nodding along almost immediately, to almost the extent “Nice Guys Finish Last” has been known to, in public and embarrassing places. “I Was a Teenage Teenager” is proud, ebullient rock and roll, like sun-gazing foil to “Give Me Novacane” in a sense (and even mentioning the topic of drugs in the process). But just wait ’til you hear “Stab You in the Heart,” in all its surprising violent mania and its rhythmic makeup like a punk update on old Jerry Lee Lewis rockabilly. You’ll really wonder what’s going on and if this maybe could be the band’s best album since Nimrod, with the breadth and consistency lacking but compensated by its startling technical variation and repeated penchant for turning your brain into lasagna in this sort of way.

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[1] Notice the “act now/think later” theme of this title showing the band still has its sense of humor intact.

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[2] Pretty much I thought the band’s last album, 2016’s Revolution Radio, was a success, full of rock songs from the heart that were dark but still approachable and quintessentially Green Day, that is to say, energetic and in their own ways memorable.

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[3] Come to think of it “Fire, Ready, Aim” seems to ape the exact drum beat and sound, and parts of the vocal rhythm, of The Hives’ “Hate to Say I Told You So.” Historically though Green Day have been pretty good on originality.

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