6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
a divisive album, but on the whole good,
This review is from: American Idiot (Audio CD)
American Idiot has been Green Day's most successful album, their most adventurous album (in some ways) and certainly their most debated album ever. It's can be hard to form an opinion on the album because some songs are much better than others. As a concept album, it's best listened to the whole way through, from start to finish, to understand the "story" it is aiming to tell. But as far as individual tracks go, there are good and there are bad. Thankfully there is more of the good.
The songs that dent the record, in my opinion, are the slower, more "radio-friendly" tracks. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams and Wake Me Up When September Ends are, in my opinion, two of Green Day's worst ever single releases (especially the first one). I might be biased because I think they've been totally overplayed on radio stations and music channels, but that's the point. They've thrown the band's commercial image in a totally different direction, transforming them into pop pin-ups and the sort of band whose songs could appear on a Power Ballads compilation album around Mother's Day. Put it this way, my mum couldn't tell you the first thing about Green Day, but she likes these two songs. She is also a fan of Lemar. That says it all really.
Other tracks that halt the album's pace are Are We The Waiting and Extraordinary Girl which to me seem quite bland for a supposedly epic album from an established punk band. The title track/lead single has some great lyrics and shows off the band's political standpoint on the album very effectively, but again compared to other tracks on the record and past Green Day singles, it comes across as musically average and is another one I tend to skip.
There are songs on American Idiot, though, that not only rescue it from commerical blandness, but that rightly give critics something to shout about and Green Day something to be very, very proud of. St. Jimmy is fast, furious punk rock at it's best and also stays true to the concept of the album. Letterbomb and Whatsername are classic Green Day fun. And Give Me Novacaine is the only slower track I can listen to again and again and truly appreciate it, as it doesn't seem as contrived or repetitive as Boulevard (if they had any sense, the record company would have released it instead).
But it's the two nine-minute-long "rock opera" tracks that really make American Idiot stand out. They are both, quite simply, incredible. All fans of punk, rock or pop music must hear them to believe them. They reminded me slightly of sort of modern-day, punk Bohemian Rhapsodies, which is surely no bad thing. Both tracks should rightly be held up as Green Day's crowing achievement and, in truth, the album is worth buying purely for these two songs.
I think it's easy to see how the album has divided both long time Green Day fans and critics, and I personally still prefer Nimrod to this record. But American Idiot is certainly one of the most controversial and intriguing moments of Green Day's career so far, and for that reason alone it deserves investigation. It will be interesting to see how they follow it up.