We take a different turn for this week's Album Of The Week and come to one which is fifteen years old this year. For the first time, we take a look at some punk-rock with Green Day's American Idiot, hailing from 2004.
Now, I haven't listened to an awful lot of Green Day and they've only been a semi-recent discovery. However, it quickly headed to the top of my playlist. I'd been oblivious to some of their harder stuff and so, this acted as a marvellous introduction. I'd heard the likes of Jesus Of Suburbia beforehand, which is what I'd define as a "punk-prog track" - it's got the length and multiple parts, like a progressive rock song does, but the actual substance of it is more punk-orientated. Even as a standalone song, it's superb.
American Idiot is a perfect example of a concept album and it's fantastic. Described as a "punk rock opera" by many, telling the story of the Jesus Of Suburbia, a lower-middle class adolescent anti-hero and his journey through a metropolitan city, being influenced by the first man he meets, St. Jimmy. The energetic introduction of St. Jimmy from the self-titled song comes in like an aggressive kick in the teeth. Opening title track, American Idiot sets a punk-driven political scene for the rest of the album. It's a fast-paced, reckless and attacks coverage of the Iraq War by what lead-singer, Billie Joe Armstrong called these "Geraldo-like journalists in the tanks with the soldiers, getting the play-by-play", critiquing the line that American journalists crossed between impartial reporting and reality-television. The juxtaposition of "faggot" and "America" is also particularly interesting, with the song giving a voice to the disenfranchised, according to Mike Dirnt.
The suite of Holiday/Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is one of the best parts of the album. Holiday is especially aggressive in both the powerful riff and blunt vocal delivery. It's another politically-driven song, poking at the American apathy of world situations going on around them and moreover, the principles behind American conservatism. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams is musically similar to Wonderwall by Oasis according to some, but it's sombre and a much darker track than its predecessor. Green Day themselves describe it as a 'hangover" from the "party" of Holiday.
The album isn't without its much darker, more emotional sections either with Wake Me Up When September Ends taking centre-stage. It chronicles the ten year old Armstrong's traumatic and difficult time after the passing of his father in September 1982. The song bears little relation to the central plot-line of American Idiot but it's one of Green Day's most signature efforts and it's a song you can't really help but get emotional over. We've all been there with family losses and this is one of the most relatable in their back catalogue. It's one to be proud of.
Overall, American Idiot is a truly wonderful album that pokes fun at the American politics of the time, the Iraq War and the menial nature of inner-city life. It's an LP that details the idea of coming-of-age and since it all flows from one into the other, a bad track is absolutely nowhere to be seen. For those who like this genre and haven't yet given it a listen, I'd highly recommend they do. An absolute masterpiece.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/3hWoK8X
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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