Green Day has travelled a hell of a path over the course of the last decade. Coming off of the heels of the critically acclaimed 21st Century Breakdown in 2009, Green Day entered the ‘10s at full steam, eventually releasing the pop/garage album trilogy Uno! Dos! and Tre! in 2012 before releasing the raging Revolution Radio in 2016. Four years later, another election is around the corner and the world has not seen any output from the boys save a greatest hits compilation and a live album from their performance at Woodstock ’94. One would think given the sonic precedent set by their last LP and the performances of some of its songs since, they’d be all too eager to speak, spit and sneer at all that’s happened in the world since then.
That’s not quite how it turned out. It could be because the band didn’t want to tread backwards a la American Idiot and make a grandiose protest record, as some have speculated, or they just didn’t want to pigeonhole themselves. Whatever the reasoning, what the world received instead was Father Of All Motherfuckers, a surprisingly brief record far more focused on a reckless-abandon view of the world with a wide and versatile set of musical mixtures to cull from. The title “Father Of All Motherfuckers” manifests this new bent from the jump, with Billie Joe Armstrong belting out some distorted, garage-y and hopelessly catchy vocals over a backdrop of urban-subway-pop-punk driven by Tre Cool and his pounding stickwork. “Fire, Ready, Aim” follows on much of the same tip with a touch of piano, neither song like most of the album’s tracks exceeding more than a couple minutes at most.
“Oh Yeah!” shows Billie Joe in a more familiar form while sampling Joan Jett’s cover of “Do You Wanna Touch Me” by Gary Glitter for its chorus; a move that the band preemptively did damage control on by directing all royalties from the single to sexual abuse charities. “Meet Me On The Roof” circles back to the the tone of the first two tracks while setting it apart via that happy, snappy, skippy rhythm that everyone knows; it comes off like a mash of the “Dearly Beloved” part of “Jesus Of Suburbia” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”. You’d expect such a track to be rife with irony and sardonic snark, but no such indication of that exists.
“I Was A Teenage Teenager” is a remarkable sonic stew, overwhelmingly Weezer-esque at root with dashes of 2004 Green Day, the lethargic garage stylings of Jeff The Brotherhood and the flamboyant defiance of early 70’s glam bands like Slade, Sweet and Mott The Hoople. All that aside, it is a bit tired and awkward hearing three guys pushing 50 singing about how much school sucks, even in retrospect. “Stab You In The Heart” showcases some of the trademark twisted humour that Green Day has long come to be known for, juxtaposing a declaration of, well, wanting to stab somebody in the heart against a peppy British Invasion throwback ditty (then again, the Beatles did do “Run For Your Life”).
“Sugar Youth” is an obligatory dose of tried and true Green Day with a 2020 twist, a hyperactive nod to indulging in all matter of substances. “Junkies On A High” plays out far slower while dabbling in nihilistic cynicism, one of the darker tunes on an otherwise freewheeling record. “Take The Money And Crawl”, while not outpacing Steve Miller by any stretch snaps back to Father Of All’s set par for the course of poppier, dancier punk rock with just the right dose of attitude, this time done with more don’t-give-a-shitness than usual. “Graffitia” ends off the all-of-26-minutes of Father Of All, busting out a healthy dose of anthemic pop punk while asking the question “Are we the last forgotten/are we the long lost love?”
Father Of All Motherfuckers is certainly not what anyone would have expected given the tone of the band’s last release, but perhaps for devoted fans it is exactly what they would have expected- something completely out of the blue and flying in the face of the familiar. The pop and party detour Green Day takes on Father Of All might just be the nihilistic acknowledgement of a coming end, a collapse and a loss of hope for the future, or it could just be three guys trying, as always, to reinvent and escape themselves within and without the bounds of the musical identity they have crafted for themselves over the years. It wouldn’t be fair to call it dance-punk; it certainly sounds nothing like The Faint or Death From Above 1979, nor glam punk as it doesn’t resemble Hanoi Rocks or anything of the like. The best possible answer is that it sounds like Green Day, unpredictable and snotty as always no matter the tune or tone.