American Idiot


“On a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin” 


If nothing else, the poster boys for the punk pop revival have shown tremendous acuity, maturity and sophisticated cynicism in the concept album masterpiece that is American Idiot. What are words like “mature” and “sophistication” doing in a Green Day review, you may well ask…

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our punk trio are now in their thirties, married with kids and alert to the dangers facing American society in this day and age. Yes, American Idiot is a socio-political commentary in the vein of The Who’s Quadrophenia (down to the name of the protagonist – Jimmy) and on that count it succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations.

Focusing on the theme of alienation and dissatisfaction, the songs worked both individually and as a whole to deliver a consistent message of shattered hopes and dreams in the post-9/11 America.

The wistful and heavy-hearted “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” conveys the pain of loneliness – “My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me/My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating/Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me/’Til then I walk alone.”

The sadly anthemic “Are We the Waiting” could almost be the loser’s hymn as Billie Joe Armstrong sings – “the story of my life.” The catchy “Give Me Novacaine” is breezy despite its subject matter as Armstrong begs for someone to “Take away the sensation inside/Bittersweet migraine in my head.” The charming “(Wake Me Up When September Ends)” almost sounds like a David Gates composition save that the pain is so palpable, it hurts – “Here comes the rain again/Falling from the stars/Drenched in my pain again/Becoming who we are.”

Hard to believe but Green Day may have put together one of the albums of the year. Not only that, American Idiot may be a rarity in itself, a punk-opera concept album that works. A+

(a big thank you to Edward and Boon Pah for their input)