Saturday, June 9, 2007

REVIEW: American Idiot

American Idiot - Green Day - Reprise - 2004 - 8/10

I never thought I'd say this, but Green Dayreally showed their maturity in this album. Previously their longest song, ironically called “Longview,” was about 3:40, now most of their songs on this album are at least 4 minutes. I hesitate to compare this to both the album, and the group's growth, but this album is mildly similar to The Who's "Tommy." This album, like "Tommy" could easily be called a rock opera, although I would probably call it a "pop opera" or a "popera" if you will. By the way, I coperated "popera" so don't even try to use that again without expecting to send me a quarter. I saw Green Day when they were almost done, touring behind a greatest hits album, playing second fiddle to Blink 182. Luckily, they pulled themselves together, put out their best album and began (hopefully) a shift back to the concept album as we know it.

Sure, some critics said it was much of the same, and they're right but they're also wrong. It does sound the same, but at the same time, on each and every song you can see the growth, you can see where that song would have been before, and what it is now. (1) “American Idiot,” the title track has the vocal progression and same rhythm part as “Maria” with the vocal delivery of “Basket Case.” The song pushes anti-conservatism observations about the media and homophobia with little behind the buzz words. (2) “Jesus of Suburbia*,” has the tempo of “Waiting,” the feeling of “Macy’s Day Parade,” and the guitar chords and progressions of “Redundant.” The song is a multi part “opera” seemingly all parts introspective about Billy Joe’s upbringing. (3) “Holiday,” has the vocal progression of “Poprocks and Coke,” the guitar chorus of “Longview,” with the greater guitar parts of “Walking Contradiction.” “Holiday” is essentially a harsher “American Idiot” that uses stronger language and more allusions to sarcastically light into American conservatism. (4) “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” the humongous video single about being lonely has similar stop go lyrics and guitar parts as “Brain Stew” combined with the guitar buildup of “Walking Contradiction.” (5) “Are We the Waiting,” is a throwback to the old Green Day Standard “Waiting” except that was a non emo version that shares the intonation of this newer track accompanied by the guitar rifts of “Redundant” and the tempo of “She.” The song is pretty deep, probably beyond a random guess but it seems to be about the urbanization of dreams, and the side effects of the wheels of progress. (6) “St. Jimmy,” about a funny character who gets his own song here while being name checked throughout the album, has the guitar parts and vocal delivery to match “Maria” and the drums of “Jaded” with the fast delivery of “Stuck With Me.” (7) “Give Me Novocain,” which has amusing lyrics metaphorically about pain and loss, is played at a tempo between “She” and “Redundant” but with the vocal delivery of “Macy’s Day Parade” and lyrics like “Longview.” (8) “She’s a Rebel” is a simple tune with the vocal delivery of “Welcome to Paradise” and the cool intro of “Jaded” that seems to literally be a new take on “She.” (9) Continuing the trend of revisiting “She,” “Extraordinary Girl” is the song from her point of view and has the long instrumental intro of “Longview” but the tempo and feeling of “Stuck With Me” and the guitar parts in “J.A.R.” (10) “Letterbomb,” a possibly metaphorical song about ignoring obligations, uses the little girl sound effect and powerful guitar intro we know from “Maria” with the lyrics “Stuck With Me.” (11) “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is begun with a guitar intro like in “Warning” and recaptures the feeling of “Macy’s Day Parade” to comment on how quickly time passes. (12) “Homecoming*” has the static guitar lead in just as “Welcome to Paradise” did with the vocal inflection of “Basket Case” and the guitar of “She.” The song, like “Are We the Waiting” has no obvious explanation and could perhaps be praising returning from war. (13) “Whatsername” is a new take on the progression of “She” that goes from the introduction to the main meat of the song using similar voice inflection to finally end the story of “She.”

What annoys me the most is that whenever I want to talk about this album with some of Green Day's fans, they say stuff like, "I liked them before they were political." Honestly, come on. The album is NOT political. There are TWO songs that are MAYBE politica. Sure, some of the others have tenuous allusions to mildly political concepts, but this album is not really that big of an outcry about the war. If you don't believe me, you could read all of the lyrics. What would have made this crystal, is if the album had been named something more logical, like St. Jimmy, a character who is mentioned throughout, but that probably wouldn't have been marketed as well as "American Idiot." Or another thing they complain about is that Billy Joe sold out and went "goth." Does it matter? The music has gone to another level. Yes its poppier, yes its a little more emo, but its still Green Day. I hope my song-by-song break down above can prove that to you, but if it doesn't it doesn't.

When it comes down to it, most of these songs are catchy as hell, and this is a really really good pop album. Accept it for what it is, a pop album, and then you have to admit, its a pretty damn good pop album.

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