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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Green Day released American Idiot: September 21, 2004

Originally posted September 21, 2011.



To follow up “the Kinks-inspired popcraft of their underrated 2000 effort, Warning,” STE “Green Day tears up the blueprint and comes up with something unexpected: a punk rock concept album built around elaborate melodies, odd tempo changes, and a collection of songs that freely reference classic rock warhorses like the Beatles and Pink Floyd.” AV “It’s a bit tempting to peg Green Day’s sprawling, ambitious, brilliant seventh album, American Idiot, as their version of a Who album…but things aren’t quite that simple. American Idiot is an unapologetic, unabashed rock opera, a form that Pete Townshend pioneered with Tommy, but Green Day doesn’t use that for a blueprint as much as they use the Who's mini-opera ‘A Quick One, While He's Away,’ whose whirlwind succession of 90-second songs isn’t only emulated on two song suites here, but provides the template for the larger 13-song cycle.” STE

“But the Who are only one of many inspirations on this audacious, immensely entertaining album,” STE “but reducing the album to its influences gives the inaccurate impression that this is no more than a patchwork quilt of familiar sounds, when it’s an idiosyncratic, visionary work in its own right. First of all, part of Green Day’s appeal is how they have personalized the sounds of the past, making time-honored guitar rock traditions seem fresh, even vital. With their first albums, they styled themselves after first-generation punk they were too young to hear firsthand, and as their career progressed, the group not only synthesized these influences into something distinctive, but chief songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong turned into a muscular, versatile songwriter in his own right.” STE His “incisive, cutting lyrics…effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches.” STE

“Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels. It can be taken as a collection of great songs – songs that are as visceral or as poignant as Green Day at their best, songs that resonate outside of the larger canvas of the story, as the fiery anti-Dubya title anthem proves – but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. While its breakneck, freewheeling musicality has many inspirations, there really aren’t many records like American Idiot…In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative, it’s something of a masterpiece, and one of the few – if not the only – records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.” STE


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