Nostalgia and New Sounds in Green Day’s Latest Album

Malcolm Jacob, Scarlet Staff

Every once in a while, you’ll find something that takes you back to another part of your life.

One thing reminds you of another, and suddenly you’re hit with a flood of nostalgia. It can be a picture, a TV show, or a song you hear.

Right now, for me, that thing is the latest album by Green Day, “Father of All…” It’s not so much that the new songs are a carbon-copy of their old style, but that writing this article has given me the excuse to look back at their long career in music. So long, in fact, that it can’t all be covered in a few quick paragraphs.

I’ve been listening to these guys since their “American Idiot” days; even now I still enjoy rocking out to tracks such as “Holiday” and “She’s A Rebel.” Before our time, many listeners found the trio through their 1994 album “Dookie,” known for iconic songs like “When I Come Around” and “Welcome to Paradise.” Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool have gone from leading the California punk rock scene to becoming one of the most recognizable bands around.

“Father of All…” consists of ten new tracks. Most of the songs are under three minutes in length, and the entire collection takes less than half an hour to play through, so it’s hardly a time commitment. That means you can give it a try regardless of how busy your schedule is.

If you’ve ever been a Green Day fan, there should be a song that you will enjoy no matter the generation you come from. The album’s title track, “Father of All…”, is a good headbanger that will likely be the most memorable from the whole collection. Several are radio-friendly: the upbeat “Meet Me on the Roof” reminds me a little of the style of Cage the Elephant and Cold War Kids. “Stab You in the Heart,” with its loud electric riffs and ‘60s-esque guitar solo, has more than a touch of classic rock. And then you have songs like “Sugar Youth,” which in all honesty could have been written 15 years ago and still fit right in with their other works.

The individual songs aren’t bad. But what about the album as a whole? It’s no “American Idiot” (despite the similarities in album covers), and I won’t pretend it is. But the variety of sounds put together by the trio keeps it entertaining throughout. It’s important to remember that bands get tired of using the same style over and over again. This is especially true if you’ve been in the business for over 30 years, like Green Day has.

There are a handful of other bands from their time that are still together. You have groups like Blink-182 and The Offspring, who, much like Green Day, have expanded to sounds beyond their punk origins. Then there are groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have crafted whole new sounds that are scarcely comparable to their original content. Sometimes people will refer to these well-known bands as “mainstream” or “sellouts,” but that’s something for individual listeners to decide for themselves. I won’t sway you one way or another.

And, if it makes you feel better, I did hear a theory that “Father of All…” (just 26 minutes in length) was published with the primary intention of expiring the band’s connection with their record label. Green Day has actually been with Reprise Records, owned by Warner Music Group, since 1993. Since they had only one release left on their contract, they decided to pump out a short album and call it a day. So maybe they’ll have something big planned as newly independent musicians. But I also don’t like putting all my faith in rumors, and I want to believe at least some thought was put into this thing.

Hearing a song like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” or “Wake Me Up When September Ends” still brings me back in time. My hope is that the tracks from “Father of All…” will grow on me, and eventually they will affect me the same way that old-school Green Day does. Nostalgia is funny like that: at the time, you don’t realize something as simple as a song will mean a lot to you down the road.