This one is hard for me. Like, I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it. For some reason, when it comes to Green Day, shit gets really personal. Probably because, like most people my age that listen to rock music, Green Day was home plate. I remember being all over the map musically as a pre-adolescent, trying to find my footing in music. It happened in 5th grade, when Nimrod came out and the video for "Hitchin' A Ride" sucked me right into a pop-punk reverie for the next 5 years or so. When Green Day seemed all but finished after Warning, it seemed like that childlike spirit of pop-punk was dead, and the word "punk" was soon found on the lips of little kids and signs at the mall.
Then in 2004 came American Idiot, and we all know what happened there. Suddenly Green Day was relevant and (perhaps) more popular than ever before, as "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Holiday" raped commercial radio for the next two years. But before the album was released, the only people who planned on purchasing it seemed to be longtime fans of the band...like myself. I bought it only a few days after it came out, and immensely enjoyed it. "Great," I thought, "Someone finally took Zen Arcade and updated it for a new generation." Then came the giant stadium tours, the Grammys, the swarms of pre-teens singing "Sig heil to the President gas man," and, shudder, Billie Joe Armstrong's Robert Smith-like eye makeup. A great album was ruined by its own success.
Fast forward to the present, where Green Day have been recording a follow up to that leviathan with Nevermind producer (and bald Garbage member) Butch Vig. This week, the band talked with Rolling Stone revealing the name, 21st Century Breakdown, and the cover art (gulp):
Oh, God. It gets worse. The album is divided into three 'acts' - Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades. Cough. Ack. Wheeze. The ultimate nail in the coffin for myself was this report on one of the album's tracks, "Before The Lobotomy," by Rolling Stone:
“Before the Lobotomy” is one of a handful of Breakdown tracks where Armstrong breaks into an uncharacteristically sweet singing voice and voyages into his limber upper register. Lyrics are answered by darts of guitar, and the band inserts pauses and breathing room between the music and vocals.
Pestilence. Boils. Hail. Billie Joe Armstrong singing in the upper-register.
Remember that Modest Mouse album called We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank? It seems like that phrase could better be applied elsewhere. The future looks bleak for Mr. Amstrong, Mr. Dirnt, and Mr. Cool. When the album comes out May, I will give it many fair listens, but something about this one just makes me feel downright nauseous. Why, God, Why? Why couldn't they just stay incognito as The Foxboro Hot Tubs!?
If you're still interesed, read the full Rolling Stone story here.