The American trio Green Day juggles between past and present in Saviorsto hit the mark once again.
It’s an understatement to say that we didn’t see the blow coming when, a few months ago, we found ourselves tearing apart the contents of the box set marking the anniversary reissue of Dookiethe album that would change everything for Green Day, between demos, unreleased tracks and live takes in abundance, and above all a somewhat disconcerting observation: thirty years – or a little more, but we’re not going to quibble – that the trio from the Californian Bay Area has set up meetings for us shortly almost regular, on record as on stage, and without the enthusiasm towards it betraying any real loss. No unnecessary suspense: Saviors does not further undermine a well-established tradition, therefore, which is already not the least of feats for a fourteenth studio album.
As if to better remind those who might have missed it that our three guys are not partridges of the year, it is another major album for them – American Idiot, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary – that seems to wanting to return this introductory “The American Dream Is Killing Me” and its very acidic look at an American society in decline. Pieces with political and social connotations, Green Day has never been short of it, and we will find others over the course of Saviors, direct “in your face” like “The American Dream…” or more rounded, more colorful. In the long run, and even though this is part of the group’s DNA, it could get boring. Now if this is not the case – or it is far from driving people away with such insistence – it is because Green Day has always left the impression that it never imposed itself. That behind the solemnity of these political flights, casualness would not be far away. Today as yesterday, Green Day is a great self-service where we come to pick whatever we want, with the fairly reassuring certainty that the preparation in the kitchen, namely its tumbles of riffs and rhythms, could never be taken in default.
The debate over whether Green Day is still punk, ever was? Obsolete. Pop punk? No more appropriate. Are we, do we remain punk when his everyday outlook, sarcastic as can be, is draped in a background of nostalgia more present than ever on Saviors, reflecting the recent entry of its main composer Billie Joe Armstrong into the fifty-year-old category? Are we, do we remain punk when he mischievously likes to sprinkle his outbursts with melodic frameworks that an Oasis would not have denied (“Goodnight Adeline”) or with 60’s pop connotations bordering on the syrupy, while evoking a relationship with alcohol that we would like to no longer be relevant (“Dilemma”)? What does it matter when, whether he looks back, around him or ahead, Green Day knows how to maintain the flame so well, his own first and foremost. “We all die young someday”, proclaims Armstrong as an epitaph on “Fancy Sauce”. It’s still a matter of knowing how to stay young, even if it means not forgetting to thicken the skin at the same time, which is what Green Day proves once again to have succeeded quite well.
Find this column and many others in our issue 159. It is available for pre-order with the cover of your choice. Choose between Bob Marley or Green Day.
Saviors is available
Here is the tracklist:
- The American Dream is Killing Me
- Look Ma, No Brains!
- Bobby Sox
- One Eyed Bastard
- nineteen eighty one
- Goodnight Adeline
- Coma City
- Corvette Summer
- Suzie Chapstick
- Strange Days Are Here to Stay
- Living in the ’20s
- Father to a Son
- Fancy Sauce