Album Review

Green Day - Saviors

A soundtrack while the world’s going to shit - catharsis has never sounded this good.

Green Day - Saviors

That so much was made of Billie Joe Armstrong switching his lyrics on a New Year’s television performance to entertain millions of American households with “I’m not part of the MAGA agenda” is, of course, puzzling to anyone who’s paid more than a cursory glance to Green Day over their thirty-plus years as a band. Delightfully, for both us and Green Day themselves, ‘Saviors’ is an outstanding record that showcases that same still unrivalled ability to incorporate biting social commentary within perfect, three-minute pop (punk) songs. A spoonful of sugar, so they say.

Scene-setting opener ‘The American Dream Is Killing Me’ unsurprisingly fits this mould perfectly, while ‘Strange Days Are Here To Stay’ touches on the opioid crisis (“Grandma’s on the fentanyl now”), and nestles the savage within the quotidian: “Everyone is racist / And the Uber’s running late”. And of course, it’s all with an anthemic singalong of a chorus: “They promised us forever / But we got less”. Mass shootings are referenced in both the raging ‘Living In The ‘20s’ and ‘Coma City’, with the latter also raising the issue of police brutality. Both, too, have gigantic, immediate choruses primed for nihilistic (and yet socially-aware) moshpits.

The subject matter isn’t all in the present, though. ‘Look Ma, No Brains!’ appears to mock the ‘slacker’ aesthetic attributed to much of the band’s own Gen X in the ‘90s, with nods to I’m With Stupid t-shirts and Trainspotting. Meanwhile, ‘1981’ - which sounds like Ramones taking on Elvis Costello’s ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’ - sets itself at the launch of MTV while delivering a time-specific comparison (“She is a Cold War in my head / And I am East Berlin”). As if to tie the time-shifts together, this chronicling of angst from the early 1980s to today, closer ‘Fancy Sauce’ - an epic chant-a-long - drops in a cheeky self-referential “stupid and contagious”.

What elevates ’Saviors’ even higher, though, is the personal themes the trio have woven throughout. ‘Dilemma’, equal parts ‘50s doo-wop and gnarly riffs, is a candid song about addiction (“I was sober now I’m drunk again / I’m in trouble and in love again / I don’t wanna be a dead man walking”). ‘Bobby Sox’, which takes sonic cues from past tourmates Weezer, switches between “Do you wanna be my girlfriend?” and “Do you wanna be my boyfriend?” both seamlessly and playfully. A musical outlier which bolsters comparisons to Oasis’ softer side, ‘Father To A Son’ is a slower cut with strings and brass that sees Billie Joe reflect on parenthood: “I never know a love / Could be scarier than anger,” he sings, the full-blast rock opera crescendo of the track a flourish that echoes the song’s emotion. Non-toxic masculinity, if you will.

Not just a return to form from a group whose recent catalogue has been somewhat patchy, but a true classic, ‘Saviors’ is Green Day at their musical and thematic best. A soundtrack while the world’s going to shit - catharsis has never sounded this good.

Tags: Green Day, Reviews, Album Reviews

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