Green Day, “Father of All…” (Reprise/Warner)
Green Day recently caught some people unaware. The trio performed at the NHL’s All-Star Game in St. Louis and singer Billie Joe Armstrong dropped some swear words into the mix. NBC had to bleep the band. What did everyone expect?
The trio is older now but age hasn’t blunted the band’s urgency. Green Day come out of the gate, as always, snarling on their latest release, “Father of All…” They may have pulled back on the official title — if you want to know what the ellipses replace, look at the album cover — but the spirit of punk lives on in the band, even if you’ll detect some strong rockabilly tendencies.
“Father of All…” represents Green Day’s first album in the Donald Trump era and the trio’s angry, anti-establishment voice has been missed. “What a mess because there’s no one to trust,” Armstrong screams in the title track. On “Sugar Youth,” he warns: “All hell is breaking loose.”
It’s a very lean album, clocking in at just over 26 minutes long. Two of the 10 songs don’t even hit the 2-minute mark. Alienation and drug use run through the album, as do violence and aggressive language. But the vocals sound more distant than when we last heard a crisp urgency to Armstrong delivering such songs as “Bang Bang” in 2016.
The 50s-ish sock hop of “Stab You in the Heart” is undercut by murderous lyrics, while the band even approaches doo-wop in “Meet Me on the Roof.” (By the way, maybe skip the date with Armstrong on the roof: “How high is your low gonna go, girl?”)
On the glam rocker “Oh Yeah,” which samples a tune by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the band mocks social media addiction (“Everybody is a star”) and how we’re failing our kids (“Burning books in a bulletproof backpack.”) Bassist Mike Dirnt shines on “Junkies on a High” and drummer Tre Cool propels “Graffitia,” a song that is as close to Bruce Springsteen as Green Day can get.
Perhaps the best song, “Fire, Ready, Aim,” sounds a little like the Hives and it’s a driving scream about daily outrage. The NFL has bought the song and seems to want it to be their equivalent to the NFL’s “Are You Ready for Some Football.” One wonders if they really spent time with the lyrics. “Knock your teeth out/To the ground/You’re a liar,” Armstrong sings. Watching this corporate tie between the NHL and punk will be interesting indeed. Someone’s teeth are going to end up on the ground indeed.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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