American Idiot

Studio Album by released in 2004
American Idiot's tracklist:
American Idiot
Jesus of Suburbia: I. Jesus of Suburbia / II. City of the Damned / III. I Don't Care / IV. Dearly Be
Holiday
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Are We the Waiting
St. Jimmy
Give Me Novacaine
She's a Rebel
Extraordinary Girl
Letterbomb
Wake Me Up When September Ends
Homecoming: I. The Death of St. Jimmy / II. East 12th St. / III. Nobody Likes You / IV. Rock and Rol
Whatsername

American Idiot review

While there has been much said about Green Day’s seventh album, there is no doubt that American Idiot is one of the best records of 2004 and clearly one of the group’s best efforts overall. Focusing on a central character who leaves the suburbs for the city and then meets a bad seed who calls himself St. Jimmy, American Idiot portrays the frustrations and plight of the average American, with more than a few not-so-subtle potshots taken at the current state of the U.S. government.

At once evocative, mature, silly and most of all fun, this is by far Green Day’s most consistent and enjoyable album since Dookie. American Idiot is their version of a Who rock opera Tommy, the next logical step forward from the Kinks-inspired popcraft of their underrated 2000 effort, Warning.

American Idiot starts off the album with a catchy and straightforward slam on rednecks, the media and others we won’t name. The title track and first single might be the crunchiest and catchiest song Billy Joe Armstrong has penned in a decade. But the sprinting, Clash-inspired punk of St. Jimmy and the spiky churn of Letterbomb aren't too far behind. Even arena-sized rockers like the anthemic Are We the Waiting pack a decent musical punch, while Bic-lighter singalongs like Wake Me Up When September Ends and Boulevard of Broken Dreams deliver a decidedly potent emotional wallop. The album really takes its heart and soul from the nine-minute, five-part Jesus of Suburbia, which really establishes the mixed tonality of the album, from angry punk to playfully bouncy. What marks this album is its fullness of texture, both lyrically and musically.

Like all great concept albums, American Idiot works on several different levels. It can be taken as a collection of great songs but these songs have a different, more lasting impact when taken as a whole. While its breakneck, freewheeling musicality has many inspirations, there really aren't many records like American Idiot. In its musical muscle and sweeping, politically charged narrative, it's something of a masterpiece, and one of the few – if not the only – records of 2004 to convey what it feels like to live in the strange, bewildering America of the early 2000s.

Part of Green Day's appeal is how they have personalized the sounds of the past, making time-honored guitar rock traditions seem fresh, even vital. Warning illustrated their growing musical acumen quite impressively, but here, the music isn't only tougher, it's fluid and, better still, it fuels the anger, disillusionment, heartbreak, frustration, and scathing wit at the core of American Idiot. And one of the truly startling things about American Idiot is how the increased musicality of the band is matched by Armstrong's incisive, cutting lyrics, which effectively convey the paranoia and fear of living in American in days after 9/11, but also veer into moving, intimate small-scale character sketches. There's a lot to absorb here, and cynics might dismiss it after one listen as a bit of a mess when it's really a rich, multi-faceted work, one that is bracing upon the first spin and grows in stature and becomes more addictive with each repeated play.

The album is big and messy and risky; quirky and unpredictable and audacious; it wears its heart on its sleeve, climbs out on a limb and isn't afraid to fall on its face. All in all, pretty good for an idiot.

(20.04.2005)
Rate review4.76
Total votes - 3048


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