Green Day’s inimitable, and yet endlessly imitated, style of fast and fun punk rock has been around since the late ‘80s. In the time since, listeners have witnessed the band go from irreverent southern California rockers singing about the boredom of youth culture to more pointed social commentators with the release of “American Idiot” in 2004, which remains the standard against which all Green Day releases are measured. While their previous release, “Revolution Radio,” may eventually take “American Idiot’s” position in due time, for now the band’s seminal album criticizing the political climate of post-9/11 America is the world’s central point of reference for this band. It is with a heavy heart that this reviewer must say that “Father of All M------------” (Explicative deleted from quotation of title), released Feb. 7 on Reprise Records, is no “American Idiot,” not by a longshot.
“Father of All M------------” is tight, short and entirely at odds with itself. It hardly seems to exist within the band’s established style, and yet it is unmistakably Green Day. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong is almost unrecognizable half the time in the vocals, and yet one can still hear a distant essence of his voice. The band has seen fit to incorporate newer sounds and styles into its music this time around, causing the album to lean away from punk and toward a more modern rock sound. Deeper tones, scratchy vocals and other sundry additions serve to distinguish this album from the rest of Green Day’s discography.
But the fact of the matter is that “Father of All M------------” is plainly unimpressive and at times, truly frustrating. “I Was a Teenage Teenager” sounds like it should be a “Weird Al” Yankovic parody, but it isn’t. It’s real. “Oh Yeah” samples Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me” while sounding like a second-string Big Audio Dynamite track, which shouldn’t distract from the profound oddness of the fact that Green Day would ever employ a sample in the first place. The most mind-boggling thing about the album is that despite all the thought clearly put into the album, what listeners get is a confused hodgepodge of tracks that only occasionally rise to the heights of kind of interesting.
To their credit, though, the songs that do stand out are decent Green Day fare. There’s nothing to match “Basket Case” or “Welcome to Paradise,” but songs like “Meet Me on the Roof” and “Stab You in the Heart” stand out on this album as truly solid compositions, and not just because most of the rest of the album is such a mess.
One should stress that while “Father of All M------------” is baffling to listen to, it is not a slog –– far from it, actually. The songs burn through the air like a buzz saw with a beat, and Green Day’s trademark brevity turns what could have been an agonizing listen into something simply confusing. This reviewer will be looking out for a release wherein Green Day expands its horizons in a way they can actually handle. For what it’s worth, “Father of All M------------” is unlike any other record the band’s ever put out. But if Green Day wants to become something more than just a bratty punk band, which is something they have accomplished before, this is not the way to do it. I give “Father of All M------------” 2.5/5 stars.