Father of All Green Day

Over the last two decades, the three-piece rock band Green Day has progressed from an icon of 2000s punk rock to the pinnacle of mediocrity, with what must be age and apathy watering down the acidity and authenticity of their music. Billie Joe Armstrong and Co. can consistently be counted on to show up, loudly deliver the bare minimum and depart to parade their creation as the final bastion of true rock music. “Father of All M------------” is far from an exception on those fronts.

While some albums feel like love letters to the listener, others feel like a middle finger. This album conversely feels like a lazily scribbled note left on a three-week old gallon of milk. Each of the album’s 10 tracks features manufactured and sterile production propping up low-effort lyrics and vocal performances. Is this the worst Green Day album? No. But nothing about it stands out enough to garner such an emphatic condemnation.

The album begins with the title track, which feels oddly like a long lost Jack White b-side, without White’s curiosity or wonder. Already, we see how far removed Green Day are from their roots — there’s nothing punk, rebellious or (using their description) “uncut” about this song. “Fire, Ready, Aim” is over before you can really get a taste of it, and it leads into the arena-rock “Oh Yeah!,” a song which draws special attention to the damning lack of substance across the album’s runtime.

“Meet Me on the Roof” has a decent, catchy tune to it and, similarly to the rest of these songs, is performed just fine. Standing alone, it would be serviceable. However, it has the misfortune of coming before “I Was a Teenage Teenager,” a somewhat pathetic appeal to aging millennials dressed up with what is easily the worst songwriting on the album. Armstrong is less than two years away from becoming a 50-year-old man, and here he pens the line “I was a teenage teenager, I am an alien visitor/My life's a mess and school is just for suckers,” which is somehow the most coherent statement he makes over the course of the track’s three choruses and two identical verses.

Songs “Stab You in the Heart” through “Take the Money and Crawl” feature the band limping over the two-minute mark, clearly struggling to pull together a full track, even while borrowing from surf rock and other subgenres they have no business attempting.

Their grand finale is drab and impersonal, and it sums up everything wrong with the songwriting. The lyrics make statements, but they’re not saying anything. They state questions, but they’re not asking anything. Armstrong’s lyrics are essentially “lorem ipsum” put to garage rock, and at no point is it a compelling look for the band. The album fades out half-developed and before it’s arrived, which is completely fine (if you genuinely wish the album was longer you can allow it to begin again from the beginning, there’s a significant chance you won’t realize it has begun to replay).

The record teems with an unearned sense of edge. It doesn’t stay long enough to make an impression, yet still manages to feel like a burden by the end of its 26 minute runtime. Worst of all is Green Day’s inability to be honest with themselves about the reality of just how neutered their music has become. It’s a pop rock album that someone sat down and convinced themselves was punk.

It’s difficult to say Green Day is making low-quality music; after all, the trio are still skilled musicians. The drums hit hard enough. The guitars, blasé as they sound on this record, are really of no lower caliber than what we were hearing from Green Day in 1994. Armstrong sounds lobotomized, but he’s hitting the notes. The missing element is the attitude, the soul. There’s absolutely nothing past what meets the ear on this album.

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