Corporate line: “21st Century Breakdown” is Green Day’s best-selling trio’s first studio album since 2004’s two-time Grammy Award-winning Punk Rock opera “American Idiot,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart, spawned five hit singles, and went on to sell more than 12 million copies worldwide. “21st Century Breakdown” is divided into three acts: “Heroes and Cons,” “Charlatans and Saints,” and “Horseshoes and Handgrenades,” and follows a young couple, Christian and Gloria, through the mess and promise of the century so far. Songs include “Know Your Enemy”, “21 Guns”, “East Jesus Nowhere”, “Before the Lobotomy”, and “Restless Heart Syndrome.”
“21st Century Breakdown” – Goes right for the Bush administration and its love for death and destruction and throws in a Wings-type bridge for good measure. And if you agree you’ll surely enjoy singing along to “scream America scream/ Believe what you see from heroes and cons/”
“Know Your Enemy” – The sentiment is clear and agreeable for most—probably all of those who listen to Green Day. But the song itself isn’t groundbreaking nor does it hold a candle to “American Idiot” and its pure urgency. It’s fairly lame paint by the numbers rock.
“Viva La Gloria” – Cute. But forgettable.
“Before The Lobotomy” – Starts slow and beautiful and then bursts alive. It should have stayed with the slower opening pace because as it bursts to life it also loses all its soul—that is until about the four minute mark where it actually gets exciting again and then ends shortly thereafter.
“Christian’s Inferno” – Skip it. Seriously.
“Last Night on Earth” – Unlike the other apocalyptical track “Christian’s Inferno,” this is gorgeous. It actually sounds unlike anything Green Day has done before. It shows that they can be a seriously good band from top to bottom. Best song, period.
“East Jesus Nowhere” – Someone told me that this track sounded like a Marilyn Manson song. They were right. It sounds all too familiar.
“Peacemaker”- I hate to say that this reminds me of Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia” but, well, it does. Too bad it’s not nearly as good.
“Last of the American Girls” – Even more daring, this sounds like Muse’s “Starlight.” Muse’s album was a concept album, too. Coincidence? Sorry. I’m a Green Day fan so it’s hard for me to draw that conclusion. But it sounds very, very similar.
“Murder City” – Another forgettable track.
“Viva La Gloria? [Little Girl]” – This version of Gloria was better than the last.
“Restless Heart Syndrome” – This is a really odd song because I’d have never guessed that it was a Green Day song. It could be on an Oasis album. I can’t imagine Green Day fans like this song and yet I find it extremely interesting and oddly good.
“Horseshoes and Handgrenades” – The first punk track. But its not as good as Green Day has been in the past.
“The Static Age” – Ugh.
“21 Guns” – I hate to say it, but I could see someone singing this on American Idol. It’s a pop song—the kind the ‘80s metal bands used to write. Seriously, it’s not that bad. Maybe its like candy, you know its bad for you and yet you can’t stop yourself.
“American Eulogy: Mass Hysteria/Modern World” – Yawn.
“See The Light” – Pretty.. Ditto “21 Guns.”
Finally: This is no Muse “Black Holes and Revelations” for certain. It’s not even Ziggy Stardust. It’s sort of going more for that Who generational angst. The question remains: does that matter? Yes. It’s a bit of a false revolution here. Obama is in office. The clouds seem to have parted and there is sunshine and rainbows. Green Day had perfect timing when they launched “American Idiot” but the shine is gone for “21st Century Breakdown.”
But then again “21st Century Breakdown” is fun to listen to and at the end of the day that is often all that matters.
Green Day “Know Your Enemy” video