Music Reviews

Green Day Saviors

(Reprise) Rating - 6/10

Billed as a loose trilogy to their politically-charged American Idiot and 1994's Dookie, Saviors is Green Day's latest attempt to retain their punk bona fides. While the marketing of the East Bay veterans' latest has heavily leaned on their biting sociopolitical commentary, the actual narrative here is whether they're worthy of even reclaiming their place as a voice for the people. And, to an extent, they succeed. The band's 14th album is a more attractive proposition than missteps like Revolution Radio and Father of All Motherfuckers, albums that tapped into most of these themes but with an added “we're here to rock because no one else does it anymore” message.

Judging by the Pogues-like opener, The American Dream is Killing Me, it's clear that the trio has their heart in the right place. The message of everyday struggle is simplistic, sure, but it does translate well with the arena rock they're clearly aiming for. The urgent Coma City is seasoned pop punk that should rightfully fill anyone with ire, where lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong strikes up the image of mass shootings being so commonplace in U.S. society. But Armstrong, instead of being heavy-handed in his message, shows more restraint when compared to the tragic characters of Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown.

Which, really, sounds like the best path going forward for a band like Green Day. There's a good sense that the trio had a lot of fun playing these songs in a room together, like on Bobby Sox, where the band revamps a sock hop melody as Armstrong reverses gender roles: “Do you wanna be my girlfriend?” Whereas the punchy garage pop of Dilemma sounds like Armstrong excusing himself for his past behavior, using the bratty melodic energy of Nimrod as an archetype. The trio dives into plenty of serious topics, but they never try to deviate from a fairly midtempo, albeit consistently fun, lane.

This lack of variation may actually underwhelm those who yearn for Green Day's long array of power ballads, especially on an album that feels something akin to a concept. For them, there's the tepid Father to a Son, which drips with sentimentality but feels somewhat out of place. Still, it's evident that the band wanted to emphasize sounding like a throwback without resorting to the past too obviously. Saviors doesn't stray too far from what they've done in the past 10-15 years, but it's far more impassioned despite their pairing things down, proof that maintaining an agreeable middle ground with just enough anger suits them best.