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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Green Day
21st Century Breakdown
Reprise

Rating: 3/10 ?


July 27, 2009
It's amazing how things change. In 2004, Green Day was exactly where they wanted to be: winning Grammys and reinventing themselves as the pinnacle of pop-punk. American Idiot was timely, innovative and drastically expanded their already sizable fan base. And it had something they would've scoffed at ten years before: redeeming social value. Idiot was a political manifesto on the state of the U.S., with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in full swing and George 'The Decider' Bush gunning for a second term. The album perfectly encased the country's anger and frustration during extremely dreary times for our nation. 21st Century Breakdown attempts to continue the Idiot rhetoric, but results in a largely failed attempt at a sequel. And while Idiot was grand both musically and lyrically, it seems as if Billie Joe Armstrong and Co. have lost their creative edge on both accounts.

While majestic in scope, Breakdown's heavy-handed execution comes nowhere near the synergy of its predecessor. At times it even comes across as a juvenile, distorted perspective of an America that seems to have passed the trio by. This is evident in the title track, which attempts to be three separate songs in one, and could have been shortened by at least two minutes. Ambitious titles like "Christian's Inferno", "East Jesus Nowhere", "American Eulogy," besides missing the mark musically, don't even bother to explain their overwrought gobbledigook. Supposedly, the songs mean to uncover some aspect of complacent American culture the group wishes to berate, but the band's increasingly clumsy attempts at commentary only expose Breakdown's lack of ingenuity.

The couple bright spots aren't enough to rescue the album either. "Know Your Enemy" screams vintage Green Day: catchy, simple, impressively so. The appealingly familiar melody easily makes for the best track, though the tune lacks the irreverence and wit that was the heart of the earlier material they're reattempting to emulate. "Peacemaker" isn't unpleasant either, and surprisingly danceable considering it's a Decemberists impression with an early American folk/western tinge. The group is certainly out of their element, and it's a mystery as to where this song fits in the Green Day catalogue, but at least they took a risk and the sum of its pieces unquestionably pulls it off. This paradox haunts Breakdown, which appears overly grandiose and ambitious, and yet remains squarely in the safety zone of their limited sonic spectrum circa-2004. Mostly, the overkill of professionalism just makes me yearn for the early Green Day material I grew up with: sloppy, abrasive, and most importantly, aware of what they can and can't pull off.

Reviewed by Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other reviews by Brian Christopher Jones

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