Album review: Green Day – Saviors

Can we get a ‘heeeey-ooooh’? Green Day have lost none of their magic or sense of realness on 14th album…

Album review: Green Day – Saviors
Nick Ruskell

The American dream is killing me.’

It’s been a good 30 years since Green Day had to worry about that grand old vision of American success, not since 1994’s Dookie meant they wouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet ever again. And it’s been 20 since they did the trick a second time with American Idiot. At this point, all orbiting 50 with no shortage of folding money to their name and feet firmly under the table as one of the most successful bands America has ever produced, punk or otherwise, some might wonder what Green Day have left to fight for. Not for them having to work two jobs. The fuck, some might muse as Billie Joe Armstrong sings the above line on the opening throw of his band’s 14th record, do they know about normal life and normal concerns anymore?

Listening to Saviors, they just know. They remember. Like Springsteen, born to run but not all the way away from where he came from, Green Day’s magic and worldview is actually at the core quite a simple and universal thing that’s actually not so far removed from where they started. It’s why, two decades after American Idiot was released, the simple flick of a lyric to now make it declare that ‘I’m not a part of a MAGA agenda sums up so much, so relevantly, in so few cuttingly sharp words. They just know.

Saviors is an album that once again finds them working with producer Rob Cavallo. It’s a partnership that gets a certain something from them, in this case filtered much more simply than on the grand American Idiot, but with more learned skill than Dookie. Often, it’s simply a raw, in-the-room capture of Billie Joe’s wizardry with three chords and a feeling. Take the grungy Bobby Sox, the pop-punk rush of Coma City, or the gobby Look Ma, No Brains! – all feel direct, off the cuff, alive.

In other places, it's a bandstand for Billie Joe Armstrong’s ability to articulate through song. The self-explanatory Living In The ’20s finds frustration and confusion, with Billie Joe’s snarl sounding not a million miles from Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman on that band’s own look at their times, Eighties. But there’s also a warm tint of nostalgia, like on 1981 and Corvette Summer. And when they do pull back the curtains and allow the songs to let more grand sails out, notably on the sweet and stadium-sized Goodnight Adeline and the touching strum of Father To A Son, there’s still a relatable realness to it all.

Green Day have done many things over the past 30 years, sometimes to varying degrees of success. But the thing that's anchored their music when it’s been at its best, and what’s made them not just an enduring band but an enduringly beloved one, is something that’s long remained the same. And that's knowing how to be human.

As they get older and wiser, when they focus their songwriting skills like they do on Saviors, they are as sharp, bright and essential as they’ve ever been. And they still know who they, and you, are.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Neck Deep, Against Me!, The Offspring

Saviors is released on January 19 via Reprise. Catch Green Day on The Saviors Tour across the globe this year – get your tickets now.

Read this: The 20 greatest Green Day songs – ranked

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