Green Day – “Father of All…” Review

Green Day – “Father of All…”

Rating – 1.5/10

Favorites – “Father of All…”

By Andre Hall

Have I enjoyed Green Day in the past? Of course! American Idiot was the first record I ever owned and it is still one of my favorite albums. Songs from other albums like “East Jesus Nowhere”, “Restless Heart Syndrome”, “Brain Stew”, “Nice Guys Finish Last”, “Hitchin’ A Ride”, and “Welcome To Paradise” are still in my constant rotation. Was there any reason to be excited for a new Green Day album in 2020? Not really. The trilogy of albums that they released in 2012 wasn’t very good at all, and besides the stellar lead single “Bang Bang”, 2016’s “Revolution Radio” wasn’t all that interesting either. I wasn’t expecting any great new music from them, but I was looking forward to the album because all signs pointed to it being a totally self-aware joke. 

First of all, it’s the last album that they are contractually obligated to release under their current label, so they probably aren’t going to put forward much effort. The hideous album cover proves this considering it looks like poor fan art drawn on a ketchup-covered American Idiot themed party napkin. It’s super short at only 26 minutes, barely long enough to be considered an album instead of an EP. The lead single, “Father of All…”, saw Billie Joe Armstrong singing in falsetto, which is not something he’s really done much of on a Green Day song before. All of this along with the super edgy way they were talking about “bringing the balls back to rock and roll” and whatnot, this seemed like it had to be ironic. There’s no way this album wouldn’t be a joke. Well, now it’s out. It’s a joke alright, but not one that Green Day seems to be in on. This is easily their worst album to date and there isn’t an ounce of self-awareness to be found.

To start off on a fairly positive note, the title track is admittedly kind of enjoyable. The falsetto vocals and punchy instrumental bring a fun vibe, it’s pretty darn catchy. The drums are bouncy and there’s some pretty neat bass work on this one too. It’s nothing special, and it makes no sense as a Green Day song, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. This is where the fun begins. And then immediately, the fun ends. Next up we get “Fire, Ready, Aim” which is the type of song that would be used in the opening credits of a Disney XD original movie about Hot Wheels. It’s not even two minutes long and it doesn’t accomplish anything besides providing background noise to hockey commercials. Billie does continue to go out of his comfort zone vocally, and his performance on this one was actually rather impressive. In fact, his vocals are pretty impressive across the board. He’s known for singing in his mid-range, but he belts out a lot of higher notes on this album. “Fire, Ready Aim” is arguably one of his best vocal performances to date despite it sounding like hockey propaganda.

 “Oh Yeah!” does not bring the excitement that the title would suggest. The exclamation point tacked on to the end of it is nothing but false advertising. The second the corny drum beat starts, you get shoved into a mandatory assembly in a middle school gymnasium. It’s the type of song that two obnoxiously optimistic adults would play as they talk to a group of tweens about how selling meat and cheese will be very beneficial for their education. After trudging through the nacho cheese verses, you stumble into a foggy merry-go-round chorus that sounds like it should be coming out of an ice cream truck’s speaker. Then, as if being cheesy wasn’t enough, Green Day dunks your head into a candy toilet and gives you a sugary swirly with “Meet Me On The Roof.” Billie’s background falsettos violently thrust forward like razor-sharp sugar-coated rainbow lollipops stabbing you in the chest. Are people just going to stop moshing and start skipping when they play this live? The vocals on this are grating and the harmonies sound almost exactly like “More Than A Woman” by the Bee Gees at times. The lyrics encapsulate the “what if we kissed hahahaha jk…. unless” meme perfectly, which is not something I wanted to hear from a man that’s almost 50. 

At this point in the album, Green Day gives up trying to give you cavities and instead tries to bore you to tears. “I Was A Teenage Teenager” sounds like Weezer if they were slowly going into a coma after a valiant effort in a turkey leg eating contest. Lyrically, this one hurts. Once again, this man is almost 50, why is he writing lyrics like “school is just for suckers?” The glimmering synths after the chorus only make it harder to stomach. Things pick up a little bit with “Stab You In The Heart,” which has another stellar vocal performance from Billie. The sinister tone of the guitars at the end is a neat little change of pace as well. It’s one of the better songs here, but it still just makes me feel like I’m 15 minutes into my 30-minute wait for a table at Texas Roadhouse. 

The last leg of this album is one that should have been amputated. In the chorus of “Sugar Youth”, Billie sings the line “and it’s dangerous” in the exact same way that he sings the line “and she’s dangerous” in the song “She’s A Rebel” from American Idiot. It doesn’t sound like a callback, it’s just distracting and makes me wish that I was listening to American Idiot. It reminds me of when one of the newer Star Wars movies would show you something from the original trilogy in an effort to win over the old fans. It’s desperate and not very effective. “Junkies on a High” is an experience akin to watching a bowling ball drop on your foot in slow motion. It’s probably the most excruciatingly dull moment on the album. “Take the Money and Crawl” is a tune that seems like it’s supposed to be energetic, but it somehow completely lacks energy. What it lacks in energy, it sure makes up for in cringy lyrics. Billie’s obnoxious vocals make it sound like he’s having an allergic reaction to them on the hook. The album finally manages to groggily crawl to a pathetic end with “Graffitia”. It sounds like the result of putting every Green Day song from the past decade into an AI and having it generate a new track based on the data. I’d get a more interesting experience from sticking crayons in my ears. Even then, I’d have less wax in my ears than the producer did when he approved this as the final product.

I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. It’s only 26 minutes but feels so much longer. I felt like I needed a break halfway through my first listen, especially thanks to the blood-sugar-spiking “Meet Me On The Roof.”  It can’t even settle on being one type of bad. The vocals stumble between gnarly and squeaky. Some parts of the tracklist sound like a snot-nosed child asking you if you have games on your phone while other parts are the kind of music Famous Dave’s Barbeque would put out if they decided to release singles that sound the way their food tastes in a desperate marketing campaign. It all carries this attitude of a middle-aged biker with a greying beard tumbling onto his Lynyrd-Skynyrd-shirt-covered beer belly trying to sneak into a high school prom. It’s desperately trying to radiate a feeling of youth while being completely unaware of how out of touch it is. Even if they did release this just to get out of their record contract, why would they intentionally make something like this part of their discography? If this was meant to be ironic, it doesn’t come across that way at all. Listening to this is like sentencing yourself to a half-hour of middle school detention. Green Day was clearly past their prime, but I didn’t think anybody thought they’d sink this low. Initially, I was rather optimistic. The positive side of me kept insisting after the first listen that it couldn’t really be that bad. I wasn’t into it, but I could see it feeling like a short and sweet little party after multiple listens. This isn’t a party, this is a funeral. A funeral that Green Day frolicked into while whistling. So much for bringing the balls back to rock and roll. The only thing that Green Day managed to do with Father of All… is castrate rock and roll. Maybe some could manage to find some enjoyment in the ridiculous title track, but otherwise, avoid this at all costs. 

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