With 2004s American Idiot, Green Day executed a near-genius punk rock opera with balls, intellect and genuine heart. It spoke eloquently to the generation unlucky enough to be hitting puberty with the stench of war in the air and was so overtly anti-Bush that you could practically feel Joe Strummers posthumous, approving gaze from above. When one sells nine zillion records using this approach, its undoubtedly tempting to repeat that formula, which is precisely what Billie Joe Armstrong and company have done with 21st Century Breakdown. Unfortunately, it misses the mark entirely, sounding more like one of their young fans trying to emulate them than a 21 year-old band building on lessons accrued. Furthermore, while its common knowledge that they are friendly with Kathleen Hanna, the fact that the drum intro to the first single (Know Your Enemy) sounds lifted straight from Bikini Kills Rebel Girl feels both disrespectful and lazy. All that said, if Green Days only function in this world is to be the gateway band that makes kids fall in love with punk rock and eventually go out and buy London Calling, then they get a pass for now.
Fri., July 3, 8 p.m., 2009