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    Green Day:

    American Idiot

    Mon, 20 Sep 2004 12:42:35

    Album Reviews: American Idiot by Green Day

    You know things in America are getting really weird when pop-punk starts taking itself seriously. But that's apparently the official trend, since blink-182 released a dour self-titled album, Green Day's done a rock opera and Good Charlotte is actually calling their third album The Chronicles of Life and Death. What's next? Political boy bands? New age crunk?

    The aforementioned rock opera, American Idiot, isn't anywhere near as bad as it could have been, but it's a far cry from the post-punk, critique-of-American-society Tommy that Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was so clearly aiming for. Instead, it's more like a post-punk Kilroy Was Here, an overblown concept album with a few catchy singles buried amidst the pretensions. Which is too bad, because tracks like "Give Me Novacaine" and "Extraordinary Girl" are among the best things Green Day have ever recorded - sweet bubblegum pop stuck to the bottom of a black steel-toed boot. But you have to wade through several ill-conceived protest anthems and a lot of nonsense about a character called Jesus of Suburbia before you get to them.

    Green Day deserve credit for taking a risk and trying to write on a larger canvas. But this album's greatest pleasures have nothing to do with its sketchy narrative or epic, five-part song cycles, and everything to do with the band's continued growth as master pop craftsmen. Let's hope next time they return to the less ambitious but ultimately more satisfying terrain they explored so well on Warning and Nimrod, and leave the social commentary to System of a Down. - Andy Hermann

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