February 3, 2020 Green Day – Father of All… (Album Review)
Morphing over the years from nimrods to basket cases, American idiots to revolution(ary) radio gods, Green Day has become one of the biggest Rock-n-Roll bands in the world. Now proclaiming themselves Father of All Motherfuckers, they return to our hearts and ears on Friday, February 7th, 2020, thanks to Reprise Records.
If there is a music fan living in 2020 who does not know the name Green Day, they have clearly been living beneath a very large mountain of sediment. Initially a straight-up, dirty Punk band out of the East Bay in California, Green Day’s biggest breakthrough into the mainstream came with their 1994 album Dookie. The start of super-stardom, since then, they have sold albums in the multi-millions, won five Grammy Awards, and are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Oh yeah, and how many rockers do you know that have been nominated for multiple Tony Awards?
For their thirteen full-length studio offering, Father of All Motherfuckers (censored to Father of All…), Green Day—Vocalist/Guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, Bassist Mike Dirnt, and Drummer Tré Cool—deliver a collection of 10 tracks that often blend the aesthetic of the 1950s with moments of Dookie, then toss in a dab of Joan Jett and a teenage fit of My Chemical Romance. Unexpected, and quite possibly a middle finger to their long-time record label, the trio’s shortest album to date was self-produced along with Butch Walker (Fall Out Boy, Taylor Swift) and long-time collaborator, Grammy Award-winning Chris Dugan (Iggy Pop, Smash Mouth).
So, why is Father of All Motherfuckers such a shocker? Well, that will become apparent as soon as the titular “Father Of All…” begins to stroke your eardrums. Like The Strokes’ (“Last Night”) love child with Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” the first impression that many are apt to have is that this sounds like a hipster “The”-band. Which does not necessarily make the track bad, far from it, just not what any Green Day fan would expect.
This retro Garage/Noise Rock clap-along continues into “Fire, Ready, Aim,” offering some truly delicious, groove-laden guitar licks. Meanwhile, funky, fat guitar and tambourine anchor the 1950’s-meets-Pop Punk “Oh Yeah!” With a chorus that heavily samples Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me” (originally written by Gary Glitter), it’ll make you dance, it’s guaranteed to make you smile, and its proceeds are being donated to International Justice Mission and Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
At this point, if you think you’re escaping the clap-along beats and the wistful, yesteryear feels, perish that thought and “Meet Me on the Roof.” As you bop along, it will be hard not to imagine the members of Green Day starring in an episode of Happy Days, greasing back their hair as they pop the collars on their leather (or letterman) jackets.
For the next track in line, you can take everything that came before and toss it into a blender with My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers,” and voila, you have “I Was A Teenage Teenager.” A fun track that finds the perfect balance between the retro vibes of its predecessors and what we (traditionally) know and love from Green Day, there’s some piss and vinegar here. So, thankfully, this lush melding of the past and the now continues with “Stab You In The Heart,” an undeniably infectious sock-hop with the very worst of intentions.
Exactly what one would expect from these punktastic rockers, “Sugar Youth” offers fat bass licks and that saccharine punk-hop that characterizes much of the band’s discography. While that may sound like a slight to some, a suggestion of predictability, it’s hardly intended as such; simply an observation that this is one track that is apt to be familiar to fans of the Green Day oeuvre and, therefore, likely a fan favorite.
This comfortable familiarity continues into the midtempo “Junkies on a High,” which introduces some twinkling ivories to amplify its melodies before the band return to funkier territory with “Take the Money and Crawl.” Ultimately, they culminate with a blend of everything that has come before, “Graffitia,” fraught with clapping and hip-shaking, piss and vinegar.
As already stated, Father of All Motherfuckers is apt to surprise some listeners who haven’t yet heard the albums’ pre-release singles. Certainly not a thematic masterpiece on par with 2004’s American Idiot, nor quite as raw as 1991’s Kerplunk or 1994’s Dookie, this is an album that gives absolutely no cares to genre. At times a poodle skirt at a sock hop, at others a catchy look back at Pop Punk’s heyday, this is an album that seems intentionally crafted to polarize its listeners.
Whether you love what Green Day have fashioned on Father of All Motherfuckers or not is entirely a personal preference, but it’s still a solid album full of enjoyable tracks that will force a smile onto your face. More than likely intended to shock in a playful manner, it’s neither the trio’s best work nor their worst. For this, Cryptic Rock give Green Days’ latest 4 of 5 stars.