Band May Have Suffered Breakdown With Fans
Bands with the longevity and popularity of Green Day are going to branch away from the sound that got them signed. Yet 21st Century Breakdown may have more accurately been called Electric Guitar Breakdown, as Green Day seem to favor acoustic intros and balladry for many of the songs here. Overall they do a decent job of connecting their softer sounds to their louder ones, but Dookie this is not.
Interspersed amongst slower tunes are some classic-sounding Green Day songs. “Know Your Enemy” could have come off of any Green Day album: Its simple lyrics, driving beat, grinding guitars and sing-songy vocals remind listeners that while Green Day may have grown up, they’re not ashamed of their past. “Christians Inferno” and the lyrics of “Before the Lobotomy” are also in keeping with Green Day’s alternative-punk tradition.
“Last Night on Earth,” however, could be the backing track of a movie montage, and album opener “Song of the Century” is an odd techno-folk ditty. Written and performed by a less iconic band, one whose style of music fit these songs, they could be favorites. Instead, they’re confusing and a bit disappointing, leaving listeners wondering ‘Where does the shredding come in?’
“Last of the American Girls” and “Murder City” are fantastic blends of all that is great about classic Green Day slowed down to suit 21st Century Breakdown’s style. If every song on this album sounded like these, listeners might be able to understand what Green Day attempted here. Unfortunately, listeners may find themselves shutting down and tuning out after “Murder City.”
Being Green Day means being held to a higher standard, one where listeners anticipate being blown away. 21st Century Breakdown offers neither classic high-voltage songs nor groundbreaking innovations. It succeeds best when Green Day embrace their roots, otherwise it’s merely pleasant listening. Is pleasant listening really what Green Day fans signed up for?