The best thing about Green Day is their loyalty to their music. They keep making it, even if it doesn’t break any new ground. Musically, there aren’t any new sounds in “Revolution Radio.” The cohesive sound is essentially a summary of all their albums since 2004’s “American Idiot.”
Lyrically, however, Armstrong definitely has something new and relevant to say. The titular song encompasses the message of all 12 songs: a pseudo-punk revolt against violence in America. Its first lines, “Scream! with your hands up in the sky, Like you want to testify for the life that’s been deleted” reflect the waves upon waves of police violence that have plagued the US for years now, and Armstrong’s desire to start a revolution against it all. The second track and first single, “Bang Bang,” is from the perspective of a mass shooter.
I think Revolution Radio is more of a personal expression of Armstrong’s angst regarding the state of the US, rather than an intensive analysis of it. Its message is too muddled and vague; one song repeatedly declares: “We live in troubled times.” Times are usually troubled for aging ex-punks.
In December Billie Joe tweeted “my mission for 2016? to destroy the phrase “pop-punk” forever.” Green Day has been referred to as pop-punk for ages and Armstrong hates it. He wants to prove that he and his band are truly punk, but can you really be punk when you endorse Hillary Clinton, or any political candidate? I don’t expect him to endorse The Donald, nor do I think he should, but punk has always been about fighting the establishment, and Green Day has lost sight of this, if they ever knew it at all. This album certainly hasn’t destroyed pop-punk.
If there’s one word to describe the way Revolution Radio makes me feel, it’s tired. As much as I love Green Day, I’m ready for something new from them. Some lyrics are actually recycled from older songs. “Too Dumb To Die” is taken right from “Sex, Drugs & Violence” from 2012’s “¡Tré!”. Perhaps the greatest difference from their previous work is the lack of adult language. Track 8, “Youngblood,” has two f-words, but the rest of the album is totally clean, perhaps further evidence of their deviation from punk.
Despite the band’s decaying originality, I once again must admire their loyalty, which I reciprocate. They don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Even in their mid-40s, they are here to shout at the world through their music that things need to change.