Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

The last two Green Day albums are a lot like Wendy’s Baconators. Absurdly dense with all your favorite ingredients and little nutritional value to speak of. You typically have to dare yourself to buy one as they tend to test your gag reflex from time to time, but of course, they’re incredibly delicious. That is, until you reach about the three-fourths mark and start feeling the trans fats coursing through you. You’ll immediately regret finishing it, but will inevitably order one later. Like its bloated (but still kind of awesome) predecessor, Green Day’s latest, 21st Century Breakdown, is proof that you can’t have meat without the grease. Its eighteen tracks are stacked in thick slices of stadium-sized punk rock, all of which are pretty good on their own, but God if it doesn’t become exhausting by the end.

Like 2004’s American Idiot, this one’s another rock-opera complete with characters and three acts, following the misadventures of two vigilantes conveniently named Christian and Gloria as they try to find their place in, as Billie Joe Armstrong so often reminds us, the “modern world” of “static” and “religious fanatics.” So while Green Day aren’t taking on particularly difficult or original targets, following the lyrics along with the album really does prove to be a bit of a joy as the characters morph from overzealous to self-loathing and back again. Again, nothing too tricky, but I’m a little disappointed that the story isn’t nearly as involved as American Idiot’s, which also seems to have the better message of the two. With the whole split personality business and the faux call-to-arms lyrics, it was hardly about the Bush-bashing that the media latched on to so strongly and more about calling the punk scene out on its own bullshit, a pretty cool feat for any band to accomplish. This time around, the same tongue-in-cheek punk posturing is all over the place, but nothing nearly as interesting is done with it.

Musically, 21st Century Breakdown follows the last album’s massive-sized punk rock anthem template pretty closely, but gets a shade heavier in spots. “Before the Lobotomy” and “East Jesus Nowhere” bring back the brutishly lethargic crunch of older material like “Brain Stew” with added swagger and panache (while sacrificing their sadly outgrown bratty snottiness, of course). Elsewhere, chord progressions from the last album get recycled as “Restless Heart Syndrome” sounds like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”-lite (which wasn’t a particularly good song to begin with) and “American Eulogy” swipes a few bits from “Jesus of Suburbia.” But then there are also a few killer punk-pop standouts in “Murder City” and “The Static Age,” some of the best songs Green Day have ever written. God knows the whole thing would go to shit if it weren’t for the able hands of producer Butch Vig, the only man I trust with stupidly-huge rock music these days.

But in the end, the real thing that keeps this album from being as good as their older material is its length. Seventy minutes is absurd for a dynamically static rock album. Green Day, grand gestures and lofty ideals aside, need to understand that more meat is just that: more meat. As much as I enjoyed it, seriously, guys, please don’t Biggie Size the next one.

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown, reviewed by Squeri on 2009-05-19T23:10:35-07:00 rating 3.3 out of 5

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