Punk rock purists, sporting their Black Flag T-shirts and bondage pants, bash Green Day for playing poppy love songs and selling out back in 1994. However, many fans of the punk rock genre cannot deny that Green Day was one of the first reasons for their present love for punk rock. The TRL-generation trashes Green Day because the band is considered old news – after all, bands like Blink 182 and other pop acts rule the airwaves today.
Green Day’s newest album, Warning, might not create waves throughout either the underground or mainstream communities. However, anyone who can drop their hang-ups about music long enough to give the album a chance will find a long-awaited collection of songs that bring back that nostalgic feeling once inspired by hearing Longview on the radio so many years ago.
Punk rock purists are right for saying this album is very punk. While there are several tracks on the album, such as Deadbeat Holiday and Jackass, which stick to the patented three-chord, snot-nosed vocals that made the group famous, much of the album strays from this formula. Many tracks have a folk and rock `n’ roll feel, employing acoustic guitars, 1950’s riffs, and rolling bass lines to create a sound apparently influenced by acts such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
The album opens with the title track, Warning, a track with a prominent rolling bass line and an upbeat sing-a-long chorus that warns listeners that this album will sound different, while still getting them to tap their toes to the infectious melody.
Other songs remind the listener of classic ’50’s pop songs. Church on Sunday is an upbeat love song that echoes back to more carefree days of music history. Hold On opens with a harmonica melody that automatically brings visions of the Beatles song I Should Have Known Better to the listener’s head.
Even the album’s first single, Minority, comes across with the unique sound yet familiar melody. This song almost feels like a patriotic marching ballad meshed with a harder punk-rock riff.
Perhaps the punk-rock community does not embrace Green Day because the band has moved on to writing songs beyond the normal punk themes of love and teenage anarchy. This album has darkly sarcastic tracks such as Blood, Sex, and Booze, which is a joke about masochism, as well as songs expressing the ideals of family, home and hope for the future, such as the final track – an acoustic campfire ballad entitled Macy’s Day Parade.
Misery is the most experimental and interesting song on the album. This track employs acoustic guitars and instruments, including accordions, tympani drums, and string arrangements, in order to create a truly unique listening experience. The song tells a short story aboout some petty hustlers and a runaway femme fatale. The song can work on many levels – as a wild western theme, the backdrop for a ’40’s era film-noir gangster movie, the melody to a polka or mariachi song or, oddly enough, the theme song for the antagonist in a Disney cartoon.
Warning as a whole is a long-awaited relief for fans of the band, whose last album was released in 1997. Green Day has returned from its much-needed hiatus and delivered a collection of melodies that are different than what many may expect, but catchy enough to please any open-minded music fan.
Let the punk purists scream Anarchy in the U.K. until they are blue in the face. Let the TRL-generation live anxiously awaiting Carson’s endorsement of the next prefabricated fad at the Number One spot. Let true music fans relish in this unexpected, unique masterpiece.