Subscriber OnlyMusicReview

Green Day: Saviors review - Pop-punk survivors in dire need of rejuvenation

There is room for redemption in Green Day who are not yet past their sell-by date, but you won’t find here

    
Artist: Green Day
Genre: Rock
Label: Reprise/Warner

The title could be facetious, but probably not. Green Day have never been a band known for their subtlety – but are they the self-styled saviours that rock music needs in 2024? Or perhaps it’s the songs in this collection that are the saviours of their band. The artwork, a doctored photo taken on Falls Road in Belfast during the Troubles, only serves to heighten confusion.

Mixed messages aside, it’s been quite a while since Billie Joe Armstrong and company’s last truly great album – 20 years since American Idiot, to be exact. Father of All Motherf**kers, from 2020, was a particularly dreadful exercise in political triteness, although at least it was mercifully brief.

Nevertheless, there is room for redemption in a band who are not yet past their sell-by date but are clearly in dire need of rejuvenation. Linking up with their regular producer Rob Cavallo for their 14th album might seem like a good idea on paper, particularly as Cavallo previously produced the trio’s most successful albums. In reality, it sounds as if the band have burrowed further into their comfort zone with this record, rather than straining at the leash to move things forward.

Admittedly, that’s not always a bad thing. Green Day are the progenitors of a particular strain of strident, anthemic punk-pop, and songs like Look Ma, No Brains! and 1981 retain the rolling tide of fizzy energy they are best known for. The loose-limbed swing of Dilemma and the exasperated prickle of Living in the 20s trade deftness and niceties for enjoyably bolshy brawls, but amid the listenable fare is the usual proliferation of toe-tappy filler; songs with both recycled tropes (The American Dream Is Killing Me) and familiar chord progressions (lingering traces of Holiday and When I Come Around) drift across the tracklist at various points. When Armstrong sings “Ever since Bowie died, it hasn’t been the same” on Strange Days Are Here to Stay, it’s a more pertinent observation than he may realise.


Somewhat surprisingly, two of the best songs here are ones with softer edges. Goodnight Adeline is a softly strummed number that predictably segues into an anthemic chorus, but it remains a highlight. Father to a Son will catch many offguard, its sweeping orchestration and tender sentiment (“You’re a lighthouse in a storm, from the day that you were born”) at odds with his comparatively puerile lyrics elsewhere.

“Will somebody save us tonight?” the frontman croons on the title track. If the rock scene needs a hero, it’s probably not going to be Green Day – but on this evidence they might pass for valiant sidekicks in a pinch.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times