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4.3 out of 5 stars152
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 5 June 2009
It amazes me when people bash bands like Green Day. Any rock band that attempts to do something a bit different, to grow, to embrace new ideas, seems to end up crucified (an apt metaphore) by their long term fans and beloved by new ones. Is it REALLY so bad that a band like GD want to step out of the slacker pop-punk mold they've peddled (superbly) throughout the 90's and early noughties to become something a little more? These people are in their late 30's, for god's sake!

Anyway, they tried to do this with the rather good 'American Idiot' and were lambasted/applauded for it. The album was a great mix of the insanely catchy pop-punk songs that we've come to love with an often unintelligable rock-opera about Jesus of Suburbia/St. Jimmy. If you pushed the story to one side (only slightly) and focused on the music, you were left with an often thrilling album that seemed a logical step forward for the group. Good times. It would seem silly to follow this grand-ideas album with something closer to pre-'...Idiot' GD (which is kind of what they did with the shallow but loveable Foxboro Hot Tubs), so '21st Century Breakdown' is definitely the natural follow up. Still growth, but continuing with the theme set previously. See! Stagnant growth. I knew it would make sense.

Anyway, the album is broken into 3 acts. Ignoring the pointless 'Song of the Century', 'Heroes and Cons' kicks off the album with the well named '21st Century Breakdown', a song bristling with Springsteen-lite stadium fodder. Great start. 'Know Your Enemy', I'll admit, I don't like, but it is catchy as hell and I can see why they've released it. 'Viva la Gloria' starts as a nice piano-led ballad before bursting into the kind of GD tune that they used to write in the Nimrod days...full of energy, great hooks, all you want in a Green Day song really. 'Before the Lobotomy' is kind of the same, starting slow and dreamily before getting heavy. In my opinion, it's the best song on the album. 'Christian's Inferno' is great; bouncy, with a killer chorus. The act closes with the forgettable 'Last Night on Earth', a little slow and dull.

'Charlatans and Saints' is the weakest act here, opening with the scathing, anti-fundamentalist 'East Jesus Nowhere' before heading into 'Misery' (off 'Warning') territory with 'Peacemaker'. 'Last of the American Girls' is fun, but unsubstantial, before things get slightly back on track with the over-too-quickly thrill of 'Murder City'. The second 'Viva la Gloria' and 'Restless Heart Syndrome' are mostly lacklustre, ending the second act on a slight downer.

But don't be disheartened. 'Horseshoes and Handgrenades' kicks up a fuss as soon as it arrives. The song of the same name (bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Hives) announces itself with a punchy riff and shouting from the soap box singing from Billie Joe. 'The Static Age' sounds like something Blink-182 might have written if they were stadium rockers, before '21 Guns' brings a 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' calm to the proceedings. Bringing the album to a close is the brilliant 'American Euology', split into two parts but coming together at the close to make a glorious whole, which sounds manic, focused, tender, aggressive all at the same time, and also showcases some solo singing from Mike Dirnt. All that's left is 'See the Light' which brings things to a fantastic, gloriously feel-good ending. Job done.

So apart from the mid-album slump, Green Day have crafted an album which, on the whole, builds on the high standards that were set by 'American Idiot'. Ignore the crucifix shapes thrown by Billie Joe and the self-important lyrics and you're left with a record which, at times, contains some of the best music of the bands career. It'll be very interesting to see what they do next.

As an afterthought, whoever wrote that pianos don't belong in punk music needs beating around the head. It's ridiculous to suggest that only 3 kinds of instruments (guitars, vocals and drums) should make ANY kind of music, let alone simply punk. Without a rich variety of instruments we'd have no 'Shape of Punk to Come', no 'Full Circle', no '...thanks for all the Shoes'. Music is a canvas onto which musicians create art with whatever tools they choose...GOD, is that last sentence pretencious, but I stand by the sentiment. Apparently this mans definition of 'hardcore' exists entirely so he can say how good New Found Glory are. Yeah, dude, you're TOTALLY hardcore. A 13 year old, brand new to the world of rock, trying to decide between the new Green Day CD and a lifetime of funky house should TOTALLY LISTEN TO YOU because you're, like, RAD and stuff.

Sorry, rant over. Buy this CD if you like Green Day, think twice if you don't.
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on 15 May 2009
First of all, please excuse the epic length of this review. I hope it will be worthwhile reading.
Green Day. The legendary trio of Tre, Mike & Billy Joe have been with me for fifteen years now and have made such an impact on my life. At the age of thirteen, I first listened to Dookie, after years of listening to what the radio told me to. Since then, I never looked back. Green Day were the gateway to so many more bands to me, and they're the reason why I've spent years and years of my life devoted to learning and mastering the guitar. I owe it all to Green Day.

On with the review:

As a die-hard fan of Green Day's first few albums (1039, Kerplunk, Dookie, Insomniac, Nimrod and Shennanigans), I was a little shocked by what I heard in Warning. At first listen, I felt that Green Day's raw element had died down, along with some of their spark. That being said, the album grew on me, more and more with every listen. I now like it as much as their older music. In my eyes, Warning was the first step in their evolution; but not necessarily what the die hard fans wanted to hear. Its riffs were more `bouncy' than anything else they'd written, and Billie-Joe had toned down the gain setting on his guitar.

So... They wrote American Idiot. Sure, it went against some of their `ideals', and people claimed that they sold out. Not true. What Green Day did with American idiot was appease themselves, the die-hard fans and the new, potential fans. They wrote a masterpiece of an album that stuck to their roots, but incorporated some of their newer, more light-hearted material. A huge success.

And finally, to the present. 21st Century Breakdown. I first heard `Know Your Enemy' on the radio a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued by what I heard, yet somewhat disappointed by it. I felt that although it's a fairly decent song, and is reminiscent of some of the older Green Day material, it lacked a little spark and variation. I was delighted to find out that it was probably one of my least favourite songs on the album!
Viva La Gloria is one of the stronger tracks on the album, and is a beautiful piece of music. Billie Joe's vocals accompany a piano for the first minute, then the song jumps to life with a 'close-to-old-school-Green-Day' outburst.

21st Century Breakdown, for me, takes both a step forward, and a step backwards. Green Day have again veered off in the direction they took with Warning. The bouncy-beats are back. Combine those bouncy beats of Warning, with the original `raw' sounding guitar, and the massively improved vocals of Billie Joe, and you have `21st Century Breakdown'. The addition of orchestral music (which is used throughout the album) is welcomed in my opinion, as it demonstrates the band's maturity today. The music is at times soothing, with the occasional outbreak of typical Green Day chaos, and the album has already managed to give me the shivers with the song `Peacemaker'. I love it. It's unique, but unmistakably Green Day.

It's a tough one to review for me. I'm going to have to give it four stars on the basis that I don't rate it as highly as American idiot. That being said, it is an astounding achievement. They story flows beautifully through the acts, and the band's passion about this album is unquestionable. I do, however, suspect that this is their last album. I simply don't see where they can go from here.

On the whole, whether you're a fan of Green Day or not; this is a great album. It's definitely a grower, and I have a feeling I'll be listening to it for years to come. I'm certain I'll look back on this review in two years time and wished I'd given it five stars.

Highly recommended album.
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on 26 May 2009
It didn't make much impression on first listen, unlike American Idiot which hit me between the eyes and I still have not recovered! But from listen 2, it's been drawing me in.

The tunes are more poppy, varied, even sentimental - it's Green Day's "Love Album" in a way. Some of the venom of AI is gone or at least dilute, and I think it's significantly weaker lyrically (I don't follow the "plot" at all, and tend to ignore it). There's plenty of interesting prog-rock style rhythm and mood changes, piano and plaintive singing as well as the usually effervescent riffy guitar, drums and bass charged pop-melodies. This complex new patina is where I find contemporary Green Day most impressive - a really good pop-punk group who have accepted progression beyond the limitations of a genre and pogoed into greatness.

My favourite currently is "Before The Lobotomy": extremely ambitious emotionally/musically, most unlike original Green Day and therefore impresses me the most.
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on 17 May 2009
4 and a half years after American Idiot first came out, Green Day have finally released a new album. Having been a big fan since American Idiot introduced me to the band, and having subsequently gone on to purchase all their past albums I was not knowing what to really expect from this latest album. American Idiot was a hard act to follow, but I can say, at least in my opinion that the band have produced a more than worthy follow up to that amazing album.

This is another rock opera, split into 3 parts and follows the story of a young couple trying to make sense of the century so far, hence the title. The political and social commentary present on American Idiot is still here, with focus on post-Bush America, modern America and the world as a whole today. The 2 lovers represent different, personalities, ideals and viewpoints, and this comes across quite well after a few listens to the songs and a look at the lyrics.

The songs on this album are quite varied and on first listen through you're not quite sure what to expect next. I would say that it may take a few listen throughs to fully appreciate it, but it's certainly a great album that I would recommend to any Green Day fan and anyone who fancies something a bit different. Have a listen to a few of the album's songs and I'm sure you'll want to give it a chance. Green Day have gradually matured throughout their careers and they have again taken a chance and done something different, and I think it's paid off.

Overall this album was worth the wait for me. There has clearly been a lot of effort put into the production of it and it shows. 21st Century Breakdown is a fantastic album and more than a worthy follow up to American Idiot.
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on 4 June 2009
If you thought Green Day couldn't possibly follow the success of American Idiot, think again! This is an outstanding album. The songs immediately seem familiar as it's that classic and unmistakable Green Day sound. Like American Idiot, it follows a story - a young couple 'Christian and Gloria' through the mess and promise of politics, war and the establishment.
The songs are catchy and once inside your head , will be reluctant to leave. I'd recommend this to anyone. It may take 2 or 3 plays to get the gist of the lyrics as they are not as clear and defined as on American Idiot, but the music will be a hit from the first play.

This special edition is very clever - it comes as a 'book' with fill colour pages of artwork and all the lyrics (apparently in Billie-Joe's handwriting) and the CD is cleverly inserted inside the back cover.
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on 26 May 2009
Buy it, listen to it at least three times, and you will realise this is almost as good a piece of work as Green Day have ever done. There are some parts that are a bit too 'lighters in the air', but some of the songs are absolutely top class. Dookie it ain't, it's more of a progression from American Idiot. It doesn't have a stand out song like American Idiot, but there is less mediocre stuff and more songs of a high standard. Dookie is still their best album, but that was 15 years ago - it wouldn't be right for a very successful and 'mature' group to be banging out the same type of stuff. The majority of their fans have grown up at the same pace as the band and can appreciate the move to a more sophisticated sound.

Overall a very good album, with one star knocked off for the odd bit of 90s stadium rock.
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on 11 May 2009
First of all, please excuse the epic length of this review. I hope it will be worthwhile reading.
Green Day. The legendary trio of Tre, Mike & Billy Joe have been with me for fifteen years now and have made such an impact on my life. At the age of thirteen, I first listened to Dookie, after years of listening to what the radio told me to. Since then, I never looked back. Green Day were the gateway to so many more bands to me, and they're the reason why I've spent years and years of my life devoted to learning and mastering the guitar. I owe it all to Green Day.

On with the review:

As a die-hard fan of Green Day's first few albums (1039, Kerplunk, Dookie, Insomniac, Nimrod and Shennanigans), I was a little shocked by what I heard in Warning. At first listen, I felt that Green Day's raw element had died down, along with some of their spark. That being said, the album grew on me, more and more with every listen. I now like it as much as their older music. In my eyes, Warning was the first step in their evolution; but not necessarily what the die hard fans wanted to hear. Its riffs were more `bouncy' than anything else they'd written, and Billie-Joe had toned down the gain setting on his guitar.

So... They wrote American Idiot. Sure, it went against some of their `ideals', and people claimed that they sold out. Not true. What Green Day did with American idiot was appease themselves, the die-hard fans and the new, potential fans. They wrote a masterpiece of an album that stuck to their roots, but incorporated some of their newer, more light-hearted material. A huge success.

And finally, to the present. 21st Century Breakdown. I first heard `Know Your Enemy' on the radio a couple of weeks ago. I was intrigued by what I heard, yet somewhat disappointed by it. I felt that although it's a fairly decent song, and is reminiscent of some of the older Green Day material, it lacked a little spark and variation. I was delighted to find out that it was probably one of my least favourite songs on the album!
Viva La Gloria is one of the stronger tracks on the album, and is a beautiful piece of music. Billie Joe's vocals accompany a piano for the first minute, then the song jumps to life with a 'close-to-old-school-Green-Day' outburst.

21st Century Breakdown, for me, takes both a step forward, and a step backwards. Green Day have again veered off in the direction they took with Warning. The bouncy-beats are back. Combine those bouncy beats of Warning, with the original `raw' sounding guitar, and the massively improved vocals of Billie Joe, and you have `21st Century Breakdown'. The addition of orchestral music (which is used throughout the album) is welcomed in my opinion, as it demonstrates the band's maturity today. The music is at times soothing, with the occasional outbreak of typical Green Day chaos, and the album has already managed to give me the shivers with the song `Peacemaker'. I love it. It's unique, but unmistakably Green Day.

It's a tough one to review for me. I'm going to have to give it four stars on the basis that I don't rate it as highly as some of their older material, including American Idiot. That being said, it is an astounding achievement. The story flows beautifully through the acts, and the band's passion about this album is unquestionable. I do, however, suspect that this is their last album. I simply don't see where they can go from here.

On the whole, whether you're a fan of Green Day or not; this is a great album. It's definitely a grower, and I have a feeling I'll be listening to it for years to come. I'm certain I'll look back on this review in two years time and wish I'd given it five stars.

Highly recommended album.
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on 25 May 2009
As a big fan of Green Day and firmly in the 'American Idiot = Masterpiece' camp, I pre-ordered this album months ago but almost cancelled it when I heard the first single (Know Your Enemy).

Thank God I didn't.

Now I've listened to the whole thing a few times, I'm starting to think it may even be better than American Idiot. Even the afore-mentoined single (sort of) makes sense within the overall scheme of things, although I would have to say that the first 'Act' is the weakest of the three segments that make up the album.

Personally, I just love the Celtic overtones that really bind together Act 2 (songs 8-13) - and the first song of the final Act ('Horseshoes & Handgrenades') is as great as Green Day have ever sounded.
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on 5 September 2011
I am a massive Green Day fan, and was really looking forward to the release of their new album. After American Idiot, I was hoping for something different because, although a generally good album, AI really veers away from the sound that you would associate with Green Day. It was too "poppy", It sounded as if the band were trying to hard, and wasnt as fun as previous Green Day albums; Dookie, Insomniac and Nimrod, I thought .

Although i respect the fact that these guys have grown up - now approaching 40 - and want to write about more serious things such as war and politics, rather than Methampthetamine and boredom, 21st century breakdown is really not that good an album, and it kills me to say it because I really admire Green Day. So, okay, there are some good songs on the album - American Eulogy, 21 guns, and East Jesus Nowhere (Know your Enemy is very catchy also, but not my favourite) - but where is the fun? The lyrics are dull, the piano was a bad idea (Guys, I thought you were a punk band?) and overall the songs are just...How can I explain it?.... NOT GREEN DAY! If it wasnt for Billie Joe's distinctive voice - and the obvious fact that it says 'Green Day' on the front of the album - I really would never have guessed that it was the same band that made Dookie, Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning.

Yes, I was very disappointed by 21st century breakdown, but I still remain a firm Green Day fan...just one who listens to their old songs much more. This is not me calling them sell-outs, though, I dont belive they are sell-outs. I just belive that they should revert back to the style of song that we loved so much in the nineties.
Alright, I will admit that I do still listen to songs from 21st century breakdown on my ipod, but only because they are catchy...nothing else really..just, catchy.

*Sigh* I guess there is still their new album thats coming out soon. I have my fingers tightly crossed that its not just a second sequel to American Idiot; I want to hear Green Day!!
Sorry Billie, Mike and Tre for a bad review. You still rock.

t let yourselves down.*sigh*
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on 9 September 2009
'21st Century Breakdown' is a mixed affair as it contains some of Green Day's best work but includes songs worthy of omission. It feels as if the band have tried to encompass different genres/styles such as Queen, The Clash and Springsteen all under one roof. Whilst it is a bold move for a band to evolve and experiment with their sound (as demonstrated by 'American Idiot'), the final result doesn't fully pay off. The first 'Act' kicks off proceedings rather well as songs like 'Viva La Gloria' and 'Before the Lobotomy' remind us of a band who are still capable of writing quick-fire punk numbers, bursting with that youthful Dookie-era energy. However, its the second 'Act' wthe album takes a different direction or should that be directionless?! For example, the Dylan-esque 'Peacemaker' does not seem to gel in relation to the rest of the album, whilst the flat-sounding 'American Girls' just plods along. Thankfully, when we reach the third 'Act', the album ends on a high. For example, 'Horseshoes & Handgrenades' is a snotty-nosed punk affair that would not seem out of place on a Sex Pistols record, '21 Guns'is a gloriously anthemic ballad with a chorus that will ring out across stadiums and arenas in years to come and finally the epic 'See the Light' which features a blistering guitar solo that Brian May would be proud of. Overall, '21st Century Breakdown' showcases some of the band's best work to date in terms of innovation and songwriting skills. However, with some judicious editing of the tracklisiting, this album could've easily reach the calibre of 'American Idiot'.
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