In 2004, Green Day irrevocably altered how the public perceived them. After their 1994 platinum smash, Dookie, the general consensus was that this was a band of juvenile so-cal boys who liked smoking weed, shamelessly ripping off the Clash and had very little to say. Basically, punk music for mallrats and frat boys. After a decade of not reaching the same commercial highs as their early career, they had to go big or close up shop. They opted for the former and essentially blew up their playbook and legacy.
With the release of American Idiot, gone were the group whose chief complaint was diminishing returns on masturbation and in its place, a politically charged trio with vague aspirations towards prog and classic rock remained. While the album had some definite flaws, it was culturally significant and stands as one of the most commercially successful indictments of the Bush administration and American culture at that time. With this, they gained respect, relevance, and remuneration many times over. Unfortunately, once you destroy your past in the way that they did, you have to find a new way to play. This would be fine, except when you’re one of the biggest bands in the world and the world is watching, you’d better answer that quickly.
They didn’t, and over the last 15 years, the three men have struggled to answer the question of what Green Day is post-American Idiot. Are they politically fuelled punks holding truth to power, alá Revolution Radio? Are they classic-rock loving alt-rockers with an eye on ambitious concept records like 21st Century Breakdown? Are they whatever the hell the awful trilogy was? None of these routes has held a tangible answer to this question. So now with Father of All Motherfuckers, the band is asking if they’re a bunch of garage rockers and we’re forced to ask ourselves, why is this not a Foxboro Hot Tubs album?
Remember them? Their garage rock side project that put out one album in 2008 and promptly disappeared into the ether. Father of All is the long overdue follow up, albeit under a different moniker. This is evident within seconds of turning the thing on. The title track has a carefully manufactured garage sound; it takes a lot of money to sound this cheap. All the tracks are drenched in ooh-ooh-ahh-ahh vocals, fuzzy guitars and swinging rhythms. The results are solid. ‘Stab You In The Heart’ is a fun little Chuck Berry ditty. ‘Meet Me On The Roof’ is some old ‘50s pop and has its charms. ‘Father of All’, ‘Take The Money And Crawl’ and ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’ are tidy little rockers that’ll probably fit neatly into the set going forward. The LP is tight, clocking in at less than a half-hour, and is much better for it as the returns would start diminishing fairly quickly after you cross the 35 minute threshold.
There are some duds, to be sure. ‘Oh Yeah’ is tedious, lifeless and shockingly flat, particularly for a collection which seems to be going at 110kmph as much as it can. ‘Junkies On A High’ is the mid-tempo ballad that no one asked for and brings with it a thundering bassline that’ll ensure it does well on the rock charts but isn’t really worth your time. By the time you finish playing it, you’re left with a feeling of ambivalence. It’s not the worst Green Day record by a large stretch, but nor is it the best. It’s forgettable but forgivable. Unfortunately, it still leaves a major question unanswered: Who the hell are Green Day? Will Murphy