Not many rock bands occupy the same air that Green Day does. I can’t think of a single band in all of mainstream rock history that has pogo’d up and down the charts of popularity like Billie Joe and the boys. They nearly bottomed out on WARNING only to rise like a phoenix from the ashes with AMERICAN IDIOT as possibly the biggest thing they’ve ever recorded. Followed that up with 21st CENTURY BREAK DOWN which while a sequel, it was financially not as much. Their ill-advised trilogy of UNO! DOS! And TRE! was a tragic mess that could have distilled down to 3 albums worth of filler material into one single album of passable jams. REVOLUTION RADIO seemed to be a righting of the ship of sorts as it returns to a more punk and aggressive sound Green Day is known for. It had a political and topical edge as it reacted to the very toxic landscape we find ourselves in now. While not nearly as theatrical or grandiose as AMERICAN IDIOT or 21st… it stripped things down back to basics and was a really solid blast of punk fury that had been missing from the mainstream for a while now.
So where does the band go from there? Do they up the ante and really take society as we see it these days to task for being a constant cesspool of bullshit? Do they write an even more furious indictment of the current political climate as it stands today? Or do they yet again veer in a totally different direction that no one expects? Well when you’ve been a band as long as Green Day, your longevity isn’t predicated on playing it safe lest you want to end up playing local state fairs for a fan base that consists of people who crush beer cans on their foreheads.
Well my friends, they’ve thrown us all for a loop with this latest release entitled FATHER OF ALL MOTHERF*CKERS. It is not only the exact opposite of anything off of REVOLUTION RADIO, it pretty much avoids sounding like any other preceding album they’ve recorded in their long and storied career. FATHER OF ALL is a short 30 minute blast of 1970’s danceable glam rock that isn’t totally removed from something you’re likely to hear on a Billy Idol record. Yet, it also has a slight air of the sort of garage band rock we got out of the early 2000’s akin to The Hives or Franz Ferdinand or even The Strokes. That signature Green Day sound that immediately sets them apart from all of their peers seems to have taken a vacation in favor of what the band thinks is something more accessible. Does it work? Has Green Day written themselves another mega success that cements their legacy as one of the greatest rock bands of all time?
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK NO THEY DIDN’T
My apologies for that outburst, I don’t know where that came from. Well, actually I do know where that comes from… this album really fucking sucks. I guess I just try to be more subdued in my criticisms lately. However, this is one instance where I simply cannot stand quiet about something this blatantly shitty. I don’t know who this is on this record, but it’s not the same guys that gave us instant classics like Basket Case, Nice Guys Finish Last, Minority, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, or When I Come Around. Those are punk rock/alternative classics that deserve to be heard by everyone with a working ear canal. FATHER OF ALL is quite simply a mess from front to back and not the charming kind you try to give the benefit of the doubt. The band was clearly going for a particular aesthetic on this album so I guess you have to give them credit for sticking to their guns in recording what they want. That doesn’t mean I have to sit here and stroke them off to completion just for being a bunch of 40 something over indulgent rock stars milking the last bit of their commercial success before they inevitably careen off the cliff of relevancy into the pit of nothingness.
There’s something to be said of a band or an artist who sticks to their guns in terms of artistic integrity. That they create the art they want free of commercial success is awesome. They’re not focused on the money making, the social media influence or even the amount of times their songs get streamed on Spotify. They make what they make and the rest of mainstream popular culture can go straight to hell in a hand basket. That is absolutely not what’s going on with Green Day’s latest. I mean sure… they ABSOLUTELY made the album they wanted without question, but in this scenario they probably could’ve used a Rob Cavallo or even a Jerry Finn(RIP) to guide them along and away from the indulgent and frankly meandering garbage spread across these 10 tracks. It’s not totally unheard of for an aging pop punk band rediscovering their love of music while pushing the envelope in new and excitingly creative directions. Blink-182’s latest NINE finds them pushing forward while not leaving behind the energy and the sonic mentality that propelled them to the top of the mountain. It was a fresh and new exciting sound for them while still remembering their history as a punk pop band. I use them as an analogy because Blink is about as close to a parallel to Green Day in terms of mainstream punk bands that still find relevance and popularity this far into a 20 or 30 year career as a band. If blink can do it… so should Green Day you would think. Sadly, that is not the case.
Usually by this point any reviewer worth his or her salt would probably go over some track highlights and pick the album apart piece by piece, that’s not going to be the case here. There’s not a single song here that distinguishes itself from the others. FATHER OF ALL is 26 minutes of the same sameyness (yes, I made up that word) that never gains enough momentum to be propulsive or does anything to warrant any attention being paid to it. It’s only unique quality in regards to the rest of the bands catalogue is that this is the furthest sonic departure they’ve made in their entire history of albums and recorded material. The lead single and title track was the first taste we the fans got a few months before the album proper dropped and I knew right on that first listen that we were in for a bumpy ride. The distorted falsetto vocals, the slightly skew and off timing drums and the pedestrian lyrics make for something that wouldn’t be out of place at Studio 54 if you dialed down the distortion on the guitars.
FATHER OF ALL is an album that was absolutely not in any way worth the 4 year wait since REVOLUTION RADIO. It fails as a successor to that particular return to form, it fails as an experimentation in blending punk ethos with a more danceable feel and mainstream appeal and more importantly it fails as something that warrants any attention being paid to it. At 26 minutes, there’s no justifiable reason that this will be anything more than a forgotten footnote in punk music and Green Days history as a band. You would absolutely be better off just leaving this in the trash bin and discovering something with way more vitality and urgency.