Album review: Green Day rediscover themselves on the energising Revolution Radio

Three decades after the band were formed, Revolution Radio is about survival and taking the next step.

Green Day. Photo by Frank Maddocks
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Revolution Radio

Green Day


Three and a half stars

Lets face it, for nearly the last decade listening to Green Day felt like home work.

After the brilliant success of their 2004 masterwork American Idiot, the California punk rockers found themselves having to write tunes to fill out cavernous arenas.

Such pressures resulted in 2009's bloated 21st Century Breakdown, another rock opera that – despite a few terrific songs – sunk under the weight of its own expectations.

¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!, their 2013 trilogy of albums, didn't help matters. They felt the need to make another grand statement – in this case to release three albums in as many months.

The decision to take a break – even if it was prompted by frontman and chief songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong’s decision to seek counselling for substance abuse – turns out to be a wise one.

The past three years have allowed the band to regroup and go back to the foundations – literally. To ensure privacy they built a studio in their home city of Oakland and started jamming for fun.

The end result is energising new album Revolution Radio which, despite its rallying cry of a title, is the sound of band rediscovering themselves once again.

While current affairs and social issues in US society are hinted at throughout, there are thankfully no overarching themes to the album – it is simply a collection of a dozen songs full of Green Day’s signature three-chord ­assaults.

Bang Bang is their best single since American Idiot. With lyrics delving into the psychosis behind mass shootings, the track is furious and relentless. The driving title track – which deftly addresses the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the US – is another standout with a bullseye of a chorus that is as giddy as it is potent.

Say Goodbye rides on a stomping groove reminiscent of 2004's Holiday, while the effervescent Bouncing Off the Walls is the kind of zany track that should please old-school fans.

There are a few missteps, however, Youngblood – an ode to Armstrong's wife – lacks bite and is gratingly repetitive.

Outlaws, meanwhile, finds the group merging pre-rock 1950s melody with crunchy guitars – which sounds more of a pastiche than something of substance.

The album ends with the solo acoustic ballad Ordinary World. When the recovering alcoholic Armstrong croons, "I don't have much / But what we have is more than enough," you can't help but feel moved.

Three decades after the band were formed, Revolution Radio is about survival and taking the next step. It is Green Day sending out the message that they are still alive and kicking. Welcome back.