For everyone from the casual listener to the long-time superfan, Green Day’s latest album caused a stir for its drastic change in sound and lyrics from what we’ve heard from the band over the years. However, while it was easy for many to label them as sellouts, the fact is that this album is a lot more complex than a lot of people wanted to believe on their first listen. So, a few months after its release, it’s a good time to take an in-depth look at Father Of All.., and the real message of Green Day’s latest album.
‘Father of All…’
This was the first taste we got of Green Day’s new sound after weeks of their insistence that new music wouldn’t be making an appearance any time soon. Hardcore fans were excited and optimistic, but many were unsure about the poppier sound and about Billie Joe Armstrong’s brand new falsetto. However, this lead single was the best choice to introduce Father of All… – whatever your first opinion of the sound was, this song sticks in your head very easily. It’s fun and upbeat, but still has the same dark-tinged deeper message of fear and paranoia that can be found all throughout the album.
‘Fire, Ready, Aim’
The second glimpse we got into the world of Father of All… was less impressive. It’s not one of the standout tracks on the album, and doesn’t really show off the musical and lyrical substance that can be found elsewhere. It was, however, at this point that we realised exactly what we were in for with the album – a 26-minute curveball that would give us a side of Green Day we hadn’t met yet.
Although this wasn’t necessarily a favourite within the fanbase, for me it was one of the best songs on the album. Sampling Joan Jett’s cover of ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me’, with all proceeds donated to organisations against sexual assault, this song had an almost hypnotic sound. The guitar riff is mesmerisingly simple and effective and it’s one of the catchiest songs on the whole album. However, it must be noted that it’s at this point that the clap-double-clap beat that makes an appearance all throughout the record starts to get tired and repetitive. On the other hand, we get a taste of Green Day’s beloved socially poignant lyrics as the sing about ‘bulletproof backpacks’, giving us a taste of the dark heart of Father of All… – the feeling of despair behind the chaotic energy and the general sense of insecurity that lingers over the album.
‘Meet Me On The Roof’
Like ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’, this is a song that wouldn’t be my first choice of single to show off the album. And once again, the clap-double-clap boldly makes itself known. ‘Meet Me On The Roof’ does show off the classic rock influences that are omnipresent on Father of All… but honestly, there are much more interesting tracks from the new record that they could have chosen as a single.
‘I Was A Teenage Teenager’
‘I Was A Teenage Teenager’ is without a doubt one of the more divisive songs on the album, and honestly I can’t even decide how I feel about it. My one setback is the ever-so-slightly cringey adolescent punk lyrics that would have worked much better on their early albums. However, this track is musically reminiscent of the well-loved Revolution Radio. The stripped back verse, constructed from just Mike Dirnt on bass and Billie Joe’s high vocals is another example of beautiful simplicity on Father of All… Then you get to the power of the chorus, which, like all the best Green Day songs, is one which you can belt out at the top of your lungs. At just under 4 minutes, it’s also the longest song on the album, which is perhaps what makes the listener nostalgic for their previous records. And that’s also what makes this one of the highlights of the album. I think this is one that will play fantastically in their live shows.
‘Stab You In The Heart’
Then, we’re right back to the high-energy, bite-size pieces of chaos with ‘Stab You In the Heart’. Musically, this is one of the most fun songs to listen, taking the listener right back to classic rock n roll with a glam rock flavour that puts a unique spin on Green Day’s sound. It’s not one that may be played on repeat, but it reinforces the upbeat and chaotic energy of Father of All… I’m a big fan of this nostalgic musical influence that until now had only made an appearance on Green Day side projects (Foxboro Hottubs, The Longshot). It would be nice to see more of this in the future.
I have a definite soft spot for this track for its subtle, blink-and-you-miss it references to 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot. ‘I’ve got a fever, a non-believer’ is taken directly from ‘Peacemaker’ on the band’s 2009 album (a criminally underrated track in itself) as well as unassuming musical throwbacks to ‘She’s a Rebel’. It shows that although the band insisted that they were straying from their roots on this project, that they haven’t forgotten their previous work; ‘Sugar Youth’ a really exciting song for superfans.
‘Junkies On A High’
After the burst of energy from the last two tracks, we’re back to something a little slower and a little darker. It takes us back to the more sombre core of Father of All…, reminding us that behind this desire to let loose and forget what’s going on in the world, there’s a real sense of fear and insecurity which we can all relate to. Singing “Rock and roll tragedy / I think the next one could be me” we are suddenly hit with the sincere emotion that we know and love from Green Day’s music. It’s a real testament to the conflicting feelings on the album.
‘Take the Money and Crawl’
I had actually forgotten how much I liked this track and I didn’t think I would have a lot to say about it. It’s incredibly catchy, and more importantly empowering in a similar way to later songs from Green Day like ‘Bouncing Off the Walls’ or ‘Kill the DJ’. It may not stand out against other songs from this album, but it certainly has a role in the overall narrative of Father of All…
They really left us on a high note with concluding track ‘Graffitia’. Although Green Day were adamant that this wouldn’t be a political album, ‘Graffitia’ goes against these claims with less than subtle references to very real social issues that are being faced in American right now. It may sound upbeat, but with lyrics like “Another one down at the mining town / Breakin’ it down for the lame wager”, Green Day are calling out the economic issues in struggling communities in the US and capturing a sense of hopelessness. They also make reference to police brutality and racism that is rampant in the country. ‘Graffitia’ shows that the real world cannot be forgotten even among the chaos of the album.
On first glance, it’s easy to just take in the party-like-it’s-the-end-of-the-world layer of Father of All..‘s narrative, but this doesn’t even begin to cover the emotional complexity that you find if you dig a little deeper. Lyrically, it perfectly captures all of the insecurity and fear felt all over the world and is as a piece of music it couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s also important to look at it from a musical perspective, as the influences and nostalgia range far and wide on the album. So love or hate the new sound from Green Day, it’s impossible to deny the emotional authenticity that they bring to every single album.
Green Day’s Father of All… is out now via Reprise Records.