“Dearly beloved, are you listening?” The new Green Day rock opera album, “American Idiot,” is worth more than a listen; it deserves repeated play and praise. The band’s first entirely new album since 2000’s “Warning,” “American Idiot” may very well be one of the best rock albums of the year – if not the best.
The expectations for this album were low among reviewers, yet Green Day pulled through and successfully made a modern rock opera without sacrificing the story or the music along the way.
The nine-minute songs don’t bore and the four-minute songs aren’t lacking. They flow through the album gracefully and don’t beg the listener to even touch the skip button. More importantly, though, each song is orchestrated perfectly in itself while also contributing to the story.
The album – as an album – mixes rock, pop, emo and punk into one amazing, political album. The album – as a rock opera – follows the main character, Jesus of Suburbia, through his trials, tribulations and eventual loss of faith in all things American.
The songs are definitely a reaction to what’s been happening in America and the war in Iraq over the past couple of years. If the title of the album isn’t proof enough of this, the lyrics are.
The title track bashes American ideals, saying, “Don’t wanna be an American idiot/One nation controlled by the media/ Information age of hysteria/ It’s calling out to idiot America.”
“Jesus of Suburbia,” a song that spans nine minutes and 10 seconds, is separated into five different chapters, each devoted to telling the story of the main character. It’s astonishing, though, how at no time in those nine minutes does the song lose its impact and energy even though, it’s basically a large meshing of five individual songs and styles. This is reflected in the fact that the song, despite its length, has gotten radio play since the album’s release.
Other songs on the album, such as “St. Jimmy” and “She’s a Rebel,” are obviously inspired and modeled after early punk. These songs would fit right in with a playlist of songs by the Clash.
“Extraordinary Girl” is a pop song done in a way only Billie Joe Armstrong could sing. The song would be totally out of place on the album if it weren’t for his voice. Armstrong’s voice has both classic and unique qualities, turning the song into so much more than just a pop-sounding rock song.
Then there’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Give me Novacaine,” which round out the album in terms of hopelessly sad songs. Completely relatable and almost unbearably depressing, these songs help to counteract the album’s overall mass of energy and speed.
This album is nothing short of stupendous. There aren’t many bands that could pull off a rock opera and honestly I didn’t think Green Day would be capable of doing so without disappointing. But, this album was the antithesis of a disappointment. Best rock album of the year? It’s a definite possibility!