Green Day’s 12th album, Revolution Radio, out on the band’s long-time label Reprise, has just been released. In keeping with the band’s insurgent spirit, the cover art features a charred and still-burning stereo.
Green Day released its lead single, Bang Bang, in August, as well as the eponymous album track in September.
The California band formed in 1986, initially dubbed Sweet Children. Founding vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt have been rounded out by drummer Tre Cool since 1990. Rolling Stone dubbed them “the three snotty punks”. The band has maintained a snarly-adolescent vibe; “We’re a gang and we’ve always been that way,” Armstrong has said of the trio.
Green Day came up as part of the punk scene in Berkeley, California; the band’s early releases were with the independent label Lookout! Records. In February 1994, Dookie, recorded in only three weeks, became a breakout success that eventually shipped over 10 million copies in the US and won Best Alternative Album at the 1995 Grammys. This was the band’s major label debut, on Reprise Records, which tempered ties with its punk roots into more mainstream pop-punk.
Green Day’s follow-up albums, Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997), and Warning (2000) didn’t achieve the effect of Dookie, but they were still successful. Nimrod’s single Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) – which Rolling Stone dubbed “uncharacteristically gentle” and the soundtrack to “a million high school proms” – was used in an episode of ER.
The band’s concept album and rock opera, American Idiot (2004) made the band popular with a younger generation, selling six million copies in the US. It won the 2005 Grammys Best Rock Album, and in 2010, got a stage adaptation on Broadway (the musical was nominated for three Tony Awards).
The band’s eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown, was released in 2009; critics were unenthusiastic, with Pitchfork dismissing its politically-tinged premise as the “Economist-meets-Vegas horrorshow”.
It was followed by a trilogy of albums called Uno!, Dos!, and Tre!, dropped in succession in September, November and December of 2012 – “as if to prove there was still plenty of gas in the tank”, noted The New York Times, “if not a reliable system of quality control”.
On April 18, 2015, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Joan Jett and Lou Reed, during the band’s first year of eligibility for such recognition.
Revolution Radio seems a promising return to the gritty, fast, politically-fuelled sound the band does best. NME noted, “There’ll be no Broadway musicals made of this album, no think-pieces devoted to unpicking its politics or meaning, but as a simple collection of songs, it’s as strong as anything they’ve come up with since 2004’s American Idiot.”
This time, the New York Times said “the tumult and desperation ignite the music”. – AFP Relaxnews