Defending Green Day's New Album In Advance, Sort Of

Pitchfork is a fine site with thoughtful rock commentary and thoughtful reviews, and their snarky in-advance diss on Green Day's next record, 21st Cen

Pitchfork is a fine site with thoughtful rock commentary and thoughtful reviews, and their snarky in-advance diss on Green Day's next record, 21st Century Breakdown certainly doesn't miss the point entirely:

The next Grammy Awards ceremony won't be for another year, but we already know who's going home with a bunch of trophies, and we know it without actually hearing a note of the album. Ambitious years-in-the-making follow-up to ambitious years-in-the-making album? Check. Veteran act who did their best work about fifteen years ago but who still inexplicably carry a vague aura of hipness? Check. Screwed by Grammy voters in the past? Check. Still sell records, but not so many records that it'll look like the Grammy voters are just glomming onto whatever's popular? Check. Big-name producer? Check. Ass-ugly cover art? Check. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Album of the Year: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown.

In 2005, the Berkeley trio released American Idiot, their big statement about Bush America, and in the process morphed from a remarkably great and consistent major-label pop-punk machine to a bloated, portentous stadium band, a move that worked out pretty much exactly how they must've hoped it would. And by all accounts, Green Day have responded to weighty expectations with something equally weighty... And according to Rolling Stone, the album's 16 tracks will come divided into three "acts": Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades.

Yeah, I give you that, sort of. American Idiot is one of the better bloated, portentious, stadium records to come out in years -- maybe my favorite since Hysteria (and that's saying a lot) but like the folks at Pitchfork, I prefer the perfect chili dog to a very good filet mignon and find the real gold in Green Day's low-stakes efforts. And that's why it's a smidge dishonest for anyone to talk about Green Day's self-consciously epic turn without mentioning that they've made two of their best low-stakes records in their high-minded era, just under alter-egos. Since 2004, Green Day has made a power-pop record that could make all the Kinks ripoffs in Hollywood run back to rehearsal under the name Foxboro Hot Tubs, and made a record as good as Interpol, only with a sense of humor as The Network; doubters check out the song at the top of this post.

So yes, 21st Century Breakdown will probably be everything Pitchfork thinks it will be. Fortunately Green Day has never stopped giving us less.

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