Album Review: Green Day – Father Of All…

By Live4ever - Posted on 11 Feb 2020 at 7:25am

Father Of All

Green Day are not great with misleading people.

Take for instance the title of their new album Father of All… (the public version misses off the word ‘Motherfuckers’, muted presumably to avoid the need for warning stickers before being sold in Target stores across America), which isn’t they claim about Donald Trump – but it is. Midway through its frothing 26-minute runtime we find the ditty Stab You In The Heart, and that supposedly isn’t a reference to the country’s orange coloured leader either. Interviewed recently, the band’s otherwise sanguine bassist Mike Dirnt posited on the same theme: ‘Anyone can write three chords, and some lies.’

Honesty means a lot to Green Day, a band written off as cartoon punk rockers until Dookie turned the world upside down for a couple of years, before they slid back into relative obscurity for a decade, before depth charging socio-political conversation again with 2004’s American Idiot. Given the turmoil at home and abroad, Father Of All… could’ve, perhaps should’ve, been a protest record to strip paint and knock heads together, but instead it’s a radical boomjet pointed at the good times, ten darts in the kind of rock n’ roll traditions which the trio have always remained fervent disciples of.

The titular opener sets its waspish tone, a heavy-riffing pit rouser with just a hint of soul in Billy Joe Armstrong’s falsetto harmonies. In places it’s gloriously loud and dumb: I Was A Teenage Teenager sounds like Billy Joel having OD’d on energy drinks, while the previously mentioned Stab You In The Heart sounds like the fiery chops of a woke Little Richard, the ‘anonymous’ target getting hazed with, “Baby infidel in a dirty magazine/Telling dirty lies, everybody can see/Kick it in the head and now I wanna see you dead/With a switchblade edge to the chest”.

In amongst all the passive aggressiveness there’s also a tangential nod to surviving these worst of times: Armstrong will no longer confirm or deny slipping off the wagon of sobriety, making Junkies On A High maybe a gritty, kicking sideways look at self-medication. That’s not the only therapy available though, as the full tilt bop of Sugar Youth wants to find a party to end all parties, the one we go to when the sun goes down on all of us for the very last time.

Nihilism and fatalism were after all Green Day’s lot from their outside, slacker beginnings, but the sunshine still occasionally breaks through the smog, Meet Me On The Roof’s animation the backdrop to a simpler, boy-doesn’t-meet girl story of emotional rollercoasting. In an off-beat way it’s a neater metaphor for applying to Father Of All…, an album that pinballs between eras, characters and moods like a confused guided missile whilst the clock ticks down.

Green Day have never felt very good about lying to us, but whilst their targets are hiding in plain sight, this is in an album that underscores their importance without ever giving itself a chance of winning fresh hearts and minds.


Andy Peterson

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