Green Day followed up their massively successful rock opera with… another rock opera! released 5 years later in 2009, 21st Century Breakdown is only the second record since Dookie to not feature Cavallo as producer for the band. let’s check it out.

Song of the Century is a sort of prologue, and its a nice kinda tender moment with the radio static over Armstrong’s vocals. i dig it. looks like this record is split into three acts, starting with Heroes and Cons. okay swear to god the opening like, 30 seconds of the title track made me think they were gonna pull like a Journey vibe to this one. the like, power rock vibes in the first half are not really what i wouldve expect but its a neat effect. the more bombastic second half is a little more my speed, haha. i think for the narrative this track gives us the backstory of one of our protagonists, Christian, even if it doesnt properly introduce him. Know Your Enemy has a real good energy and speed to it. ¡Viva La Gloria! introduces our second protagonist, Gloria. really digging the drums on this one. Before the Lobotomy is a neat track – i like the bookending on this track, and the meat of it in the middle is p fun, if a bit grim in describing the ways in which Christian makes Gloria worse. Christian’s Inferno is the first real track from Christian’s perspective. the chorus on this track is infectious, ngl, and the contrast between them and the verses is a little strong. i really like the second verse when he sings “i am the atom bomb”, the vocal effect there is a lot of fun. a mixed bag as a full track tho. now that we’ve got our setting established, and our characters introduced, Last Night On Earth rounds out the first act. it seems like it kinda provides the second half of Christian, narratively, where the passion that leads to his anger and self-destruction also inform the more productive sides of him. its a very sweet song, kinda Smash Mouthy, honestly. East Jesus Nowhere starts Act 2, Charlatans and Saints, and is a very thumpy track, heavy on those floor toms, haha. huge anti-religious song, and man theyre back with that hyper-catchy chorus. Peacemaker has a great vibe to it, with the guitar here, and the vocal flairs, its p good. Last of the American Girls is nice. i can vibe with this. Murder City’s interesting, and it’s weird having read a comment or two from the band about it – apparently this was the last song written for the record, and the only one after the 08 election, in response to a San Fransisco protest about a police murdering a dude while handcuffed (very likely the killing of Oscar Grant). ¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl) brings back the vibes from Last of the American Girls, and kinda reflects the issues from Before the Lobotomy worsening. Restless Heart Syndrome ends Act 2 touching on prescription drug abuse, which is pretty appropriate given the way things were going in 2009. Horseshoes and Handgrenades kicks off the final Act, and this one’s p fun, got a great energy to it. Static Age might be my fave song on the record – it’s got that bright pop rock vibe to it, and it’s contrasting this bright cheery vibe with a clean distillation of that disaffection the record’s been discussing the whole time. 21 Guns feels very much like the Wake Me Up When September Ends of this record, but i don’t mean that in a bad way, its a good track. American Eulogy: Mass Hysteria / Modern World is the closest they get to the long multipart tracks from American Idiot, and i dig this one a lot. the Song of the Century callback in the opening is good, Mass Hysteria’s p good, and Modern World is great, culminating in this huge blended ending. See the Light closes out the record. this is a very fun, bright, hopeful ending. i feel very average on it right now, but i dunno. i like how it caps out the record and i could see it being a fave on return listens. ask me again later.

faves – Song of the Century, Last Night On Earth, Static Age, 21 Guns
dislikes –

well. my first thought it that i keep expecting a lot more plot outta these if they’re calling them rock operas. i’m used to listening to records that could like, get translated to a stage with very little change, whereas these have plot but a lot of it is loose and handwavey. it makes sense, since Green Day has always been focused a little more on the personal growth and development, but i dunno. i’ve walked out of both of these records feeling a bit light on the opera side.

that being said, they definitely deliver on the rock half. 21st Century Breakdown leans heavily on like, stadium or power rock influences for theatricality, which definitely works for what they’re shooting for but i like a little less than their punkier works. i don’t think the highs are as high here – there’s no Holiday, there’s no Boulevard, there’s not even an American Idiot, but musically i think it’s really consistent. these guys REALLY know how to write a bop, how to make shit catchy and toe-tapping.

thematically, this record is another crack at discussing the ways in which modern society has alienated people, has eaten up the future for profits and tried to sell them the scraps. in my opinion, i feel like this record is a little more direct in it’s critique – addressing religion, advertising, pharmaceuticals, the police state – than a lot of what American Idiot does.

that being said… i dunno, i didn’t connect with this one as much even i did with American Idiot. plus, this one feels long. you feel that it’s running 70 minutes here.

there’s def some parts here i dig, but this one’s not one of my faves either.

21st Century Breakdown – 5/10

next time we’ll be checking out their 2012 release, ¡UNO!

first: 1,000 Hours | previous: American Idiot | next: ¡UNO!

all my reviews for Green Day