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Friday, June 5, 2009
Green Day "21st Century Breakdown"
By JEFF RICHARDS
Green Day's latest album, 21st Century Breakdown, is an operatic three-act, three-chord suite centered on a young couple coming to grips with life in the crumbling George W. Bush era, and set amid a backdrop of modern greed, religion and change.
While the narrative thread that ties the suite together is loose at best, the Butch Vig production is tight and confident. It's full of thundering, hard-to-resist Green Day pop-punk riffs, kick-tom-crash drums, and is layered with plenty of ear candy. Production-wise, the band has never sounded better. Vig manages to channel the trio's exuberant sound and energy, and punch it right through your speakers ("East Jesus Nowhere," "Murder City," "Horseshoes and Handgrenades").
Whether "21st Century Breakdown" lives up to itfs lofty ideals — especially in the wake of the critical and commercial success of 2004's American Idiot — is debatable. What made American Idiot so satisfying was its urgent satirical bite, and the pointed humor directed at a floundering administration. This time around, Billie Joe Armstrong's MTV libretto is at times vague, filled with teen-shocking platitudes ("You're a sacrificial suicide / like a dog that's been sodomized"), and can come across as preaching to the choir. Then again, "21st Century Breakdown" is no call to revolution — it's merely pointing a finger at the enemy. The biting humor may be missing on this one, but Green Day still deliver an idealistic six-string slap in the face — and we all know that a good slap can wake us from our apathy. Sometimes.