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Green Day – “21st Century Breakdown” (2009) May 18, 2009

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Green Day.
Tags: ,

Written by Andrew Hart

Alright loyal readers, I am about to break the cardinal rule of journalism and reveal a personal bias instead of using this space to tell you who Green Day is.  You know who Green Day is, let’s move past it.  Instead, allow me to reveal that I do not like Green Day, in fact I never have.  I’ve heard Dookie and Warning and American Idiot, all of the classics essentially, and only one or two of the singles have ever appealed to me.  Obviously I’m not the right guy for the task of reviewing their new album, 21st Century Breakdown then, am I?  Actually I am, and the reason I told you all that it to make this message all the more clear.  I love this album.

Maybe it’s my newfound appreciation for music or something, but this album just works, in almost every way.  The flow of 21st Century Breakdown is unprecedented.  There is no obscenely long 5-songs-in-one track like American Idiot had, this seems more like an album confident that each of it’s 18 tracks can stand alone, and they do.  The title track is varied and hook-laden the entire way.  It’s the most diverse track on the album and covers a ton of ground in it’s five minute lifespan.  It’s something of a teaser of things to come.  There are many styles to be found on this disc though, from the highly infectious and repetitive “Know Your Enemy” to the slow crooner “21 Guns” to the crescendo powered “Before The Lobotomy.”  The entire album is bound to something for everyone, but it’s doubtful you’ll get attached to just one or two of the tracks.

It’s almost frightening how it happens too.  One second you’ll be singing along to “Know Your Enemy” (which you’ll have memorized after two listens) and then suddenly you’re dropped into the slow, piano-fueled “Viva La Gloria.”  Just as you get swept up it’s it magical tone, it picks business back up and it’s like your on those first few tracks all over again.  It’s a major uptempo swing that doesn’t break the song, but actually makes it better.  Green Day must know it works too, because they pull the same trick with the following “Before The Lobotomy”.  It’s at that point where the album really picks up business too.  The next 12 songs will rock you like a hurricane, it’s pratically a whole album by itself.  “Murder City” is toe-tappingly good with a strong vocal performance, “Christian’s Inferno” is an entirely different experience thanks to distortion heavy verses, and “21 Guns” will bring a tear to your eye based on the sound alone, I could care less if the lyrical material cracks you or not.

However, as wonderful as that middle span of the album is, for once having a lot of tracks is a problem.  Grading 21st Century Breakdown as a whole is tough because if it was say 13-15 songs instead of 18 it would be damn close to flawless.  However, “Know Your Enemy” as infectious as it is gets old awfully quickly.  On top of that, “American Eulogy” repeats the sin of too much repetition and will become a must skip in later listens, a shame since it follows the wonderful “21 Guns”.  The intro track seems totally uncalled for as well, but at that point I’m pretty much just nitpicking.  It’s an achievement enough that out of 18 songs only 2 or 3 are below average, but the remainder of the album is excellent and flows remarkably.

Green Day has really carved up a masterpiece with this album.  The flow is excellent, the lyrics, while still political at times, are never overwhelming, and the band still really knows how to write a hook.  The band has clearly taken a lot of inspiration from artists like The Who or dare I say The Beatles, in concocting a wonderful cohesive album with winners around every turn.  The criticisms are few and far-between, and because of that this should go down as Green Day’s defining work.  There’s something here for casual Green Day fans and hardcore fans.  Hell, even I liked it, that should be enough to convince you right there.

9.5 out of 10 – Download “21st Century Breakdown”

Green Day is | Billie Joe Armstrong – Vocals, Guitar, Piano | Mike Dirnt – Bass, Backing Vocals | Tré Cool – Drums



1. K-God - May 18, 2009

when did this come out?
oh well, good review! glad you actually, legit liked it. haha

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