Green Day - American Idiot

Green Day had flagged early on in the piece that this new album would be somewhat different to their back catalogue, and after their previous outing, 2004's ‘Warning', it was to be expected that they would continue to expand their sound in a different direction.


The first track and first single, ‘American Idiot', gives a false impression of what this album is like. It is perhaps only on the album as a single, as it is almost out of place on this record. Lyrically it fits, but musically it doesn't. As a brief overview, this album has been written as a rock opera. I know – that sounds so wrong in the same sentence as ‘Green Day', but that's what it is. The theme of the album focuses on a few characters, mainly ‘Jesus Of Suburbia', and ‘St Jimmy', as well as a female character whose name I haven't managed to pick up from any of the tracks. From what can be gathered, it is a story of aimlessness in todays American society. The characters appear destitute and floundering through life with no goals, in some kind of endless cycle of drugs, lost love, and yearning for a better life.


Musically, this record is a huge departure for Green Day, with plenty of slower tracks, and so many different vocal melodies that it is hard to believe it is the same band who churned out 3 minute pop-punk tracks for 10 years. It seems that the boys have decided they really want to create something here, and in doing so have decided to showcase their individual musical talents – talents which we could be forgiven for thinking didn't exist on this level. Singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong really gets to work vocally on this album. It is probably difficult to pick up on first listen because his voice is so unique, but it is more in the songwriting that he excels here. The style of singing is a lot different, lots of rising vocal lines, and in general, the singing clicks with the rest of the band in a way never before seen by Green Day. Drummer Tre Cool is another standout on the record, showing that he can play with a lot more diversity than he has shown in the past. Green Day's most successful formula has been its catchy power-chord riffs, accompanied by a continuous drum beat, which has made their music somewhat predictable, but Cool dips into a deep reservoir of drumming talents here, and it really adds another level to their music.


2 of the tracks are broken into ‘parts', however they do in fact go for 9 minutes, which is something extremely new to long time Green Day fans. There has been a real effort to capture a wide range of musical styles on this record. One ‘part' of the ‘Homecoming' track is done in almost a Rocky Horror style, and moves through various styles from the 50's right through to their own unique punk sound that fans will be familiar with. The variety of sounds that this record encompasses is extremely refreshing to hear from a band who have made the 3 minute punk song their signature.


‘American Idiot', quite frankly, will not be for everyone, however for every old school fan who hates this record, there will be someone who previously didn't care for them that should enjoy this record. The plans to take this show on the road and perform the album in its entirety before playing their regular show of old hits will no doubt be a contentious issue for old fans who want to see the band live, but you could almost guarantee the entire show will be full of all the energy and fun that comes along with a Green Day concert.


They have managed to achieve something here that not a lot of bands could do with the same passion that Green Day do. There is a distinct sound to all the classic rock operas, but it is something that is hard to pin point, and I would imagine, even harder to write successfully. This is no deterrent to the punk powerhouse though, as they manage to put all the ingredients together to come up with something pretty special. A natural progression from their previous album, this takes the band to a new level and puts them among the ranks of genuine musicians. In a time of manufactured music and record company driven rubbish being spoon fed to kids all over the world, this is a refreshing example of a band playing music for the love of music, and doing what they want in order to create a quality record that people can enjoy.

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