Green Day’s new album Revolution Radio will reportedly sell 74,000-79,000 pure copies in the U.S. in its first week on sale. It will debut at number 1 due to a lack of competition, but it is a disappointing number compared to Uno’s 139,000 sales in 2012, while 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown sold 215,000 copies. Dos and Tre in 2012 sold 69,000 and 58,000 copies respectively, but they were release in quick succession so Uno is a better representation of that era commercially.
It’s hard to believe Revolution Radio is the twelfth album from Green Day. It’s harder to believe they have been in existence for nearly thirty years. The era I most associate them with is the 90’s. Green Day exploded into the mainstream in 1994, I’ve been with them every step of the way. I associate Green Day with my own youth. It’s twenty-two years later and Green Day sound re-energized, refocused and wildly youthful.
Album opener, the Neil Young-inspired “Somewhere Now”, along with the dream-pop “Outlawz” and the unabashedly infectious “Youngblood” keep the surprises coming. There is no one-dimensionality to be found. The element of surprise remains high throughout. At times the energy and rawness of Kerplunk rears its head. At other times, there is a certain Nimrod-esque quality to the varied styles bouncing seamlessly from one to the next with each song.
Lead single “Bang Bang” hits you and sticks with you upon first listen. But it’s on repeated listens where it makes it mark. The “ohs and awws” in the background standing out more and more with each listen. “Revolution Radio” is classic post-Idiot Green Day. Billie Joe Armstrong declares, “Revolution Radio. Operation No Control.” The mentions of cherry bombs and Sertraline are just fantastic.
Bassist Mike Dirnt, who has arguably one of the most recognizable styles in punk and rock music, and Drummer Tre Cool continue their rhythm section dominance throughout the album. One of rock’s most chaotic, frenzied rhythm sections, the duo not disappoint here. Just listen to what they do on a more laid back track like “Still Breathing.” Brilliant.
“Troubled Times” sees Armstrong on his lyrical a-game; the song works on a number of levels, but is especially poignant considering all of the madness currently taking place around the world. The charismatic front man, the main creative driving force, didn’t have to look far for inspiration for Revolution Radio. Like any great artist, Armstrong and Green Day serve more as a funnel for the voice of the voiceless and use their status and exposure to raise awareness and try to make a difference.
Just like American Idiot previously, Revolution Radio is poised to become synonymous with the times. “Bang Bang” is just as strong a lead single as “American Idiot” was in 2004. Where the latter made light of the shortcomings of America, the former is a striking expose on the topic of rampant gun violence. Both songs equally possess import and telling of the times of their release.
Overall, Revolution Radio plays very much like the proper follow-up to 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown. In their post-American Idiot career, Green Day have shown that they are at their absolute best when they have a mission and a message. 2012’s Trilogy of albums now look like the result of a band needing to chill out and let the big concepts lie dormant for a bit. Luckily for Green Day fans, 2016 is not all that different from the landscape of 2004; political unrest, social issues and more, America is in a state of unrest. Now more than ever, Green Day needed to come out of hibernation. And that they have.