The punk aesthetic, like most provinces of youth, is often wasted on the not-young. Not so, Green Day; the tireless mid-thirtysomething trio will undoubtedly keep…
Music Review

21st Century Breakdown

Green Day | AMERICAN GENIUSES: Rockers Green Day give their breakdown of the new millenium
Image credit: Sebastian Artz / Retna Ltd.
AMERICAN GENIUSES: Rockers Green Day give their breakdown of the new millenium

The punk aesthetic, like most provinces of youth, is 
 often wasted on the not-young. Not so, Green Day; the tireless 
 mid-thirtysomething trio will undoubtedly keep launching their scrappy sonic bottle rockets until the last guitar pick falls from their trembling, liver-spotted fists.

Indeed, on 21st Century Breakdown's chant-along lead single, ''Know Your Enemy,'' frontman Billie Joe Armstrong howls, ''Overthrow the effigy/The vast majority/Burning down the foreman of control'' with all the fervor of a high school anarchy club president. The band seem oddly immune 
 to the fact that success — especially via their last album, 2004 blockbuster American 
Idiot — has rendered Berkeley's gutter-boys-done-good accidental targets of their own ire. Snarling agitprop pronouncements tend to lose their authority (and context) when shouted from the mouths of Grammy-winning multimillionaires.

Give credit where thrashing, three-chord credit is due, however: No matter how arrested their style and subject matter, Green Day remain remarkably good at high-blast anthems that burrow directly into the pogo-ing, lizard-brain id. Cases in point: 
 the thunderous title track; the Middle Eastinflected ''Peacemaker''; and a clutch of 
 stirring punk power ballads in the tradition of 1997's ''Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)'' and '04 smash ''Boulevard of Broken Dreams.'' On the poignant ''21 Guns,'' Armstrong temporarily sheds his viva-la-revolution armor, pleading, ''Lay down your arms, give up the fight.'' Otherwise, the 
 battle — unflagging, if questionably age-
appropriate — rages on. B

Download This: Listen to the song 21st Century Breakdown at last.fm

Originally posted May 05, 2009 Published in issue #1047 May 15, 2009 Order article reprints
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