07 February 2020 18:39
As the most commercially popular punk band in the history of the United States, Green Day have often admirably taken it on as their obligation to make Rock For Our Times, to heal — or, if the case requires, salt — our national wounds. Sometimes the band has leapt into its role as generational spokespunks (2004's landmark American Idiot); at other times, they've seemed to sort of slide there by default (2016's Revolution Radio). Their latest album arrives at the dawn of an election year, but this time out, if you're expecting the band to cater to our pain and spray-paint another blood-red Rorschach on the Washington Monument or tell you who to vote for in the New Hampshire primary, well, you're going to have to get that advice from Paul Krugman or Bon Iver or whoever. If you're just looking for some catchy pop-punk rock & roll tunes, they've written 10 of those, and most of them are real good. The band heard on Father of All Motherfuckers (or Father of All…, as it's being sold at the Safemart over in Cowardsville) sounds refreshingly, almost Kerplunk-ishly, unburdened by legacy or accrued stature.
While the album's title might reasonably describe the current occupant of the White House, Billie Joe Armstrong recently told Rolling Stone that the band specifically set out not to waste their time on a bunch of songs about Trump. In some ways, Father of All… recalls 2000's Warning, an album released at the nadir of alt-rock's cultural reach in which they displayed their mastery of vintage rock songcraft. Like that record, this one seems uniquely minor for Green Day, both in design and execution, and in a good way. The glam-slam stomper "Oh Yeah!" summons Joan Jett's version of "Do You Wanna Touch Me." The speed-freak Merseybeat cheese of "Stab You in the Heart" is phony Beatlemania at its finest, right down to its screaming-girl crowd noise. A couple songs — the begging, pleading breakneck title track, the wonderful Dexy's Midnight Runners-tinged mod swing of "Meet Me on the Roof" — play with echoes of Sixties soul.
Well, Father of All… is definitely not your standard Green Day record. Green Day's 13th studio album set sees them step outside of their comfort zone, experimenting with a range of new sounds and styles. Father of All… opens with the hand clap-heavy title track, which is a propulsive dance number that's more like the Black Keys or Eagles of Death Metal. The eighth song, "Junkies on a High," almost has the same pacing as "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," while the closer, "Graffitia" feels like the Beach Boys covering "Mony Mony." Green Day are trying new things on Father of All Motherfuckers. Punk rock veterans Green Day have dropped off their newest record, Father of All Motherfuckers.
Green Day are getting ready to head out on a massive stadium tour this year with Fall Out Boy and Weezer, and so the bright, clean Father Of All… is an album of songs clearly designed to be played in stadiums. (The actual ticketbuyers in those stadiums will mostly be waiting around to hear "When I Come Around" and "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," but never mind.) We've already posted the title track, "Ready, Fire, Aim," and "Oh Yeah!" And today, the whole LP is out. Below, stream the new Green Day album and watch the video. A recent poll in a Facebook fan group placed 1994's Dookie as their most popular album and 2004's American Idiot at number two. Suffice it to say, disciples don't expect greatness from one of the best punk bands of all time anymore. But that's very different from believing that Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool are the last three living Californian pop-punks who could provide greatness any time they really wanted. The enormous success of American Idiot preceded various failed leaps towards those great heights: a fatigued remake of American Idiot's grandiose political formula (21st Century Breakdown), tepid pop-punk records that even frontman Billie Joe Armstrong would later say had "absolutely no direction to them" (that old trio of albums again), and straight-forward pop-rock about capital "I" Issues, like the modern ills of mass shootings and social media (Revolution Radio). The title has sadly been asterisked and reduced to "Father Of All..." (in 2020 even punk bands have marketing and socials teams), and seemed to hint at an anti-Trump record but in an interview with Kerrang! And genuinely the world doesn't need an American Idiot remake, when that album's Trumpian dystopia of propaganda and xenophobia are more relevant today than they were in 2004. American Idiot's title track may have warned of the "age of paranoia" but by the title track of 2020 Father Of All, we're left with a fat jovial chorus of Billie Joe singing, "I got paranoia, baby!". The 'Father of All…' album artwork Befitting an album to dance to, the band's M.O. is to rampage through the history of rock 'n' roll. Father of All is short and sweet (sometimes sour), at 26 minutes of ten lightning-speed elated tracks, none of which sound like what you'd expect from Green Day. There's glam rock; there are soul and Motown influences: absolutely anything and everything, thrown at a wall. The tracks, when they're good, are simple fun with the staggeringly high-res production values you'd expect from a band this massive. The title track and "Fire, Ready, Aim" are full-on garage band upbeat numbers ("ah-huh, ah-huh, honey") with enough clap-sequences and throwback energy of The Hives to soundtrack a particularly playful car advert. "Sugar Youth" is ready-made for teenage audiences: it's similar to radio-friendly bops by 5SOS and All Time Low but with the Billie Joe vocal stylings from Green Day's most famous songs. For its sins, the glam rock moments of the album work, including the third single "Oh Yeah!" which features the band's first sample – Joan Jett's cover of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me" (yikes!). Most tracks are sharp adrenaline bursts that'll work nicely as palate cleansers during stadium shows and ideally be the most high-energy moments during the upcoming super tour with other genre giants of the 90s and 00s, Weezer and Fall Out Boy. Days before the album release, it was announced that they'd signed a two year partnership deal with the National Hockey League – it doesn't seem a stretch to suspect a deliberately plotted link between the two. On the album release post, Billie Joe said, "Rock has lost its balls. Their ode to drunken dancefloors and youthful summertime romance, "Meet Me On The Roof" sounds like album filler to any of the naff bands surrounding Arctic Monkeys during the decade in which they reigned: full of jangling piano, more claps, simpering choruses about good times. Despite these misfires, Green Day are still the Father Of All. They're one of the only bands of their era actively attempting to engage audiences with new music, and doing so without leaning in to the more generic pop-rock sound that has dominated rock charts for the past five years. Obviously this is an album that a band of their capabilities could've feasibly have written and recorded in under a month – Green Day know that, their fans do, and neither side of the arrangement cares much. It's sonically fun, thankfully doesn't try to talk about TikTok or Bernie Sanders or polyamory, and is coming from a band who made Dookie, one of the most influential pop punk albums ever and American Idiot whose title track was practically "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for millennials (sorry). It will be accepted as all of Green Day's albums will be by their fanbase: willingly, gratefully and with forgiveness.