This is always an exciting time for Green Day fans such as myself. The build up to a new Green Day release is always met with a frenzied hope, but also a deep trepidation. This has been no different with the band’s thirteenth studio album, ‘Father of All Motherfuckers,’ their shortest and maybe most rock n roll of the lot. For a band that are known to deliver political anthems such as the critically acclaimed, ‘American Idiot,’ this album is surprisingly apolitical with very little emphasis on any societal worries. Instead, it focuses more on being unfocused. As singer Billie Joe Armstrong gleefully put it, the album is about “not giving a fuck,” something that is a breath of fresh air for those of us who just want to let our hair down and have fun.
The album kicks off with the title track, another Green Day record beginning with the unmistakable beat of drummer Tre Cool. It soon breaks in to the distinctive distorted guitar sounds of Billie Joe and the driving pick strumming of Mike Dirnt’s bass. Good old Green Day you may be forgiven for thinking but oh no. As soon as Billie Joe’s falsetto vocals leap to the forefront of the track, you know this isn’t going to be a usual Green Day record. The distorted vocals, which are evident throughout the album, defy the modern age’s emphasis on clean cut, over produced vocals. The chorus of, ‘Father Of All’ reminds us that it is indeed Green Day we are listening to, a classic unapologetic punk rock vibe. “Huh uh, come on, honey/Huh uh, Count your money/Huh uh, what’s so funny?” This is a just a singalong song that will soon become an anthem sung by thousands of fans on the band’s upcoming ‘Hella Mega Tour.’ From this first song, I can’t help but feel the sound is a little too generic, as if the band are just aiming to be on the next FIFA soundtrack but as the album progresses, a glimmer of the Green Day many of us love starts to shine.
The earworm anthem to be, ‘Oh Yeah!’ is one of the catchier tracks of the album. The lyrics focus on the world of social media and the dire effects it has on society. “Everybody is a star,” is a look at how everyone can believe they are famous just from getting some meaningless likes on some app. “Ain’t it funny how we’re running out of hope” is the band’s message to us all. Society just accepts the effects of social media and the hope of any change is fading day by day, Green Day album by Green Day album. Songs like this continue to light the torch of Armstrong as the spokesperson of a generation. “Burning books in a bulletproof backpack,” is a statement on how people are failing their own children. His social commentary on a generation who endlessly stream online and have more than they could hope for is evident again, even if the nearing fifty year old is of a different time altogether.
A running theme of the album is of alienation, drug use, and violence, all manifested in their bubble-gum, sugar coated, gleeful pop track, ‘Meet me on the Roof.” The happy go lucky sound is contradicted by the undertones of apocalyptic scenarios and children’s drug use. “Hanging from a window and all you gotta do is jump;” These lyrics are really dark in comparison to the light natured feel of the song. We have to remember though that this album is about not giving a fuck so these dark tones and airy fairy melodies shouldn’t be studied too much. Its Green Day after all, just enjoy the ride. A running theme of the album is of alienation, drug use, and violence, all manifested in their bubble-gum, sugar coated, gleeful pop track, ‘Meet me on the Roof.” The happy go lucky sound is contradicted by the undertones of apocalyptic scenarios and children’s drug use. “Hanging from a window and all you gotta do is jump;” These lyrics are really dark in comparison to the light natured feel of the song. We have to remember though that this album is about not giving a fuck so these dark tones and airy fairy melodies shouldn’t be studied too much. Its Green Day after all, just enjoy the ride. We come to my favourite track of the album, the punk angst song of days gone by, ‘I Was A Teenage Teenager.’ This song clearly portrays the albums message of not caring about anything. The lyrics, “I was a teenage teenager, full of piss and vinegar…My life’s a mess and school is just for suckers,” is one of Armstrong’s more feisty lines of the album; something that reminds me of their ‘Nimrod’ days. He may be getting older but he still has that angst that drove him to write punk classics of the 1990’s.
The rock n roll inspirations of the album are clearer than anything on, ‘Stab you in the heart.’ This anti love song with murderous lyrics is a retro nod to The Swinging Blue Jeans’‘Hippy Hippy Shake.’ Unapologetic, hate steered, rock n roll fun. With the frenzied screams of young girls embedded into the production, it unashamedly echoes The Beatles. Retro vocal sound effects and even a 1950’s inspired rock n roll guitar solo that elevates the song from a modern song dedicated to a by gone sound, to a jive jumping rock n roll classic.
In the Donald Trump era, you’d expect Green Day to come out with an album dedicated to ripping the establishment apart and yes, there are hints with lyrics like, “All hell is breaking loose,” in their song ‘Sugar Youth,’ one that wouldn’t be out of place in 2004’s, ‘American Idiot.’ Little nods to such matters of having no hope in the world are also seen in their album’s finale song, ‘Graffitia.’ Mike Dirnt’s classic bass driven sound introduces us to maybe the most meaningful song on the album. Armstrong sings, “Another black kid was shot in town/A man with a badge and a daytime show/Darkness falls on graffiti/Death of a town in the afterglow.” He is reporting on the USA’s problem with gun violence, the number of young black men being shot by police daily and how it has become a “daytime show” for the world to witness. Under the upbeat riffs and bubble-gum pop, you can be mistaken for not hearing many meaningful lyrics in the album, but this song suggest Green Day are still keeping their finger on the social pulse of America.
It is a superb finish to a rather average album of light-hearted songs, some raging with typical Green Day humour and hatred but many just floating around with much of the other mediocre music that is offered in the mainstream today. With its tinges of glam rock inspired sounds, which are a breath of fresh air for someone like me who is a huge glam rock fan, ‘Father of All Motherfuckers,’ delivers just what Green Day probably wanted it to; fun, fast paced songs that make you want to get up, shout a bit and enjoy the fathers of all motherfucker’s, Green Day.