Green Day review, Father of All Motherf***ers: Onslaught of frenzied energy comes at the expense of innovation

Glam and messy it may be, ‘inspired’ it is not

Elisa Bray
Wednesday 05 February 2020 15:18 GMT
Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong
Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong (Rex)

In a statement accompanying Green Day’s Father of All Mother****ers, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong bemoans the current state of rock and roll, championing their 13th album as “inspired… A NEW sound for us. Dirty and messy… I want our attitude to be on the level as these young hip hop acts. The baddest rock band on the planet that gives a s**t.”

It’s hard to know if Armstrong is being ironic. Glam, anthemic and messy Father of All… may be, but “inspired” and “baddest” it is not.

They do, however, deliver on the promise of a “new sound”. From the opener, you wonder if this is indeed the pioneering Nineties pop-punk trio that, in 2004, spawned the politically charged rock opera American Idiot. Armstrong’s recognisable vocals have been replaced by falsetto and distortion; by the penultimate track, “Take the Money and Crawl”, it sounds as though he is singing from within a high-school locker. If you didn’t like the opening song, it’s unfortunate that the second, “Fire, Ready, Aim”, has a near-identical key and pace – another misfire.

There is no denying that Father of All… has a raw, frenzied energy, but its onslaught of straight rhythm-chord bashing and hand claps is at the cost of experimentation and interest. “Stab You in the Heart” is straight out of the 1950s’ 12-bar-blues songbook.

Not that the album is devoid of strengths. There are immediate melodies here, in “I Was a Teenage Teenager”, and the anthemic “Meet Me on the Roof”, which would sit perfectly alongside The Vaccines on an indie-night dancefloor.

But that’s it, really. Zipping along in a mere 26 minutes, Father of All… feels like a rush, but not of the adrenaline kind. Although – to these ears – its brevity is a plus.

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