Review: “21st Century Breakdown,” Green Day

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Everything about 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day’s first album of new material in five years, screams “epic” – the title, dividing the album into three acts, and the highly polished music itself.  Not the kind of thing one would have expected from this Bay Area band when they emerged as a scruffy punk trio more than 20 years ago. 

But how much of 21st Century Breakdown is “punk rock”?  Maybe you can trace the radio-ready rocker “Know Your Enemy” back to the Clash, maybe the feverish stomp of “Peacemaker” revives the punkabilly of Robert Gordon on a road trip to Tijuana.  This is a rock opera, pure and simple, and Green Day takes their huge audience on a trip through an America that is self-absorbed, disillusioned and battered down by government and religion.  The title track moves through a handful of riffs and sets up the loose storyline of Chrisitian and Gloria who bounce through society like pinballs but manage to find hope and faith and “See The Light” by album’s end. 

If there was such a thing as rock radio these days, it would be all over this worthy album.  21st Century Breakdown is a document of its time, as Born To Run was of its time, and Nevermind was in its day.  On the flip side, the album’s “message” probably rings truer for listeners who are in their late teens or early 20s – the rest of us remember a time when punk rock didn’t sound nearly so polished and polite.  Surely, most listeners will be attracted by the big rock beats and the sparkling production work that has come to be Green Day’s calling card.  I never thought I’d see a day when punk rock could be considered “classic rock” but this excellent album from Green Day is as classic as they come.

MP3: “Know Your Enemy”

Green Day official website

2 Responses to “Review: “21st Century Breakdown,” Green Day”

  1. Greatness might just be trying your hardest and being your best even when you don’t have to. Of the greatest bands today, maybe only Green Day, U2, Dylan and The Boss are the only ones striving and pushing as hard as they did with their first albums.

  2. […] Grammy nominations came out last night with one glaring omission. Green Day’s excellent 21st Century Breakdown was not nominated for Album of the Year. How is that possible? While I like the new Dave Matthews […]

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