Review: It’s Not The American Dream Killing Green Day

Let’s get this out of the way: I liked 2020’s Father of All. While it’s definitely not Green Day’s greatest record, or even in the top ten, I did not outright loathe it like most on the internet seemed to. There’s quite a few stinkers, but the title track was very cool with a great video, “Oh Yeah!” was a mellow highlight, and “Take The Money and Crawl” had a lot of production tricks that separated it from the norm. I can recognize its faults, but believe most of Green Day’s fan base expected Dookie (or, if they’re ten years younger, American Idiot) once again. The problem was trying too much new.

Since then, I have been able to see Billie Joe and the gang live in 2021—a fantastic show that completely retconned Father of All. That seems to be the theme with the new record, entitled Saviors, out this week. Recorded in London and Los Angeles, it is the latest collaboration between Green Day and Grammy-winning producer Rob Cavallo, whose notable works include two of the band’s most iconic albums, 1994’s Dookie and 2004’s American Idiot

I was able to hear the record early, thanks to Green Day’s partnership with indie record stores. Expertly planned “Listening Parties” occurred around the world on January 13th, and despite the blistering cold Oklahoma weather, I was able to hear Saviors in its entirety at Josey’s Records in Tulsa.

© Green Day, Reprise Records

The lead single, “The American Dream Is Killing Me,” sets the tone perfectly for the album. It embodies the signature Green Day sound while delivering the band’s usual message. Despite my reluctance to their TikTok references, this track’s infectious energy has undeniably contributed to the album’s widespread popularity.

Moving on to “Look Ma, No Brains!” – a pop-infused delight that adds a different flavor to the album. It’s the kind of track you might recognize from recent Taco Bell ads, standing out as a quirky and enjoyable addition to the collection.

“Bobby Sox,” the first non-single track, takes a different turn. Unfortunately, it lacks the energy of its predecessors, disrupting the pacing of the album. While not a terrible song on its own, its placement seems to diminish the overall impact.

© Alice Baxley

“Dilemma” emerges as a personal favorite among the singles. Its unique structure, transitioning from a slow, poetic verse to a loud and fun chorus, showcases Green Day’s versatility. The music video, shot in stylish black and white, deserves recognition for its distorted P.O.V shot and adds an extra layer of artistry to the song.

“Strange Days Are Here to Stay” and “Living In The ’20s” impress with clever lyrics, demonstrating continued prowess in Billie Joe Armstrong’s songwriting. “Suzie Chapstick” stands out as a non-single with a fantastic groove. “Father To A Son” is a poignant, acoustic track, likely to resonate deeply with those who have grown up with the band.

On the flip side, “Corvette Summer,” “1981,” and “Coma City” failed to leave a lasting impression. These tracks come off as over-dramatic throwaways that do little to enhance the album’s overall appeal. “One Eyed B****d,” while not necessarily a standout, provides a watered-down St. Jimmy vibe – potentially suitable as a discoverable album track but lacking the punch required for a successful single.

Saviors ultimately plays it safe, a move that left me somewhat disappointed. While I comprehend the commercial considerations of returning to a familiar sound after the reception of Father of All, the lack of substantial innovation caught me off guard. The album functions well and will undoubtedly satisfy devoted fans, yet as artists, Green Day seems to avoid breaking new ground. If there’s one aspect to appreciate in their previous record, and I certainly do, it’s the willingness to explore uncharted territory. There’s fun, but ultimately, it’s the same rollercoaster since 1994.

Final Review: ★★★/5

Writer’s Highlights: Look Ma, No Brains!, Dilemma (Video)

Pre-order Saviors here.