American Idiot – Green Day– 2004
Claimed Sales: 16m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: Apple Music
Released over a decade after their breakthrough album Dookie, American Idiot marked a somewhat return to worldwide success for Green Day. Much like Dookie, a lot of the songs here are quick sharp bursts and punk rock energy, She’s A Rebel a clear example of this, but here most of them are grouped as part of two ‘suites’ that bookend the album. Both Jesus of Suburbia and Homecoming are split into 5 sections tying into the narrative flow of the entire album. It’s less of a concept album and more a theatrical experience with characters and songs forming moments in their lives. The fact it would literally become a Broadway show is no surprise, even if on a full listen the ‘narrative’ doesn’t hold together like the band thinks it does. Many of the songs, from the energetic Holiday to the soft rock groove that starts Give Me Novocaine stand alone just as well as they do as part of the overall album and for me it’s difficult to even follow any semblance of story. Those two ‘suites’ do the best job in this respect, especially Jesus of Suburbia, which moves from a 60s rock intro to the chorus of ‘Hey’s that make up City of the Damned to the xylophone moment on Dearly Beloved . It’s here where the band’s songwriting and composition really shines. It’s all very loud, which is to be expected, but this only allows the moments where things are more stripped back to have more of an impact. Wake Me Up When September Ends is the strongest example here and with it’s emotional tone it serves as a fitting sequel of sorts to the band’s own Good Riddance (Time of Your Lives). The biggest hits of the album probably hit the hardest though, with the title track sounding like the most Green Day song of all time, while Boulevard of Broken Dreams has this expansive sound to it that nothing else here comes close to. As an album American Idiot is a surprisingly diverse album given it’s attempting to tell one story, Extraordinary Girl is much more pop leaning than some of Homecoming for instance, but the energy that Billy, Mike and Tré bring throughout is what holds the whole thing together. I really wish they went even further with the concept album thing though, it feels like a lot of opportunities were missed here. That said, there’s so much to love on American Idiot though that I can look past the inconsistencies with the narrative, Green Day remains probably my favourite act of the Punk Pop era of music.
Will I listen again?: Yes
Best Track: Boulevard of Broken Dreams is by far my favourite Green Day song.