In life, we all endure hardships: I, a middle-class white man, know this better than anyone. One Sunday afternoon, instead of calling my parents, doing laundry or watching two-thirds of an episode of Doctor Who, I had to force myself to devote twenty-six miserable minutes to listening to the new Green Day album.
Father of All Motherfuckers is proof you absolutely can judge a book by its cover. The title alone approaches Music to be Murdered by levels of cringe, and the cover art looks like a drug trip scene from Bojack Horseman that’s been drained of all self-awareness. What is left is a soulless attempt to revitalise Green Day’s once-great offerings of angst-filled rock.
Green Day are no longer fit for purpose, now failing to appeal to swathes of its old audience
As the 2000s drift further and further away and fade increasingly into memory, it’s clear that the band is no longer fit for purpose. Those who would once have described themselves as fans of Green Day have been radicalised. Now, they are split between two camps, and are either into harder rock and metal, or are currently compiling Spotify playlists with “aesthetic” anime covers. Green Day has been left behind.
Of course, to lose a hefty chunk of your audience is no bad thing. Everyone (albeit secretly) decries that at least one band they used to like has become too popular. Having a leaner fanbase comprised only of loyal listeners – to be playing to the wheat, not the chaff – can be incredibly liberating.
The album is haunted by a blandness and adherence to cringe-worthy tropes from the naughties
This is not the case, though, for Green Day. Once, the band’s lyricism was genuinely, shockingly counter-cultural. Back in 2004, no-one who was looking for applause claimed to be “the faggot America”. No more. The opening track, “Father of All…”, (which is the album title without the naughty word; it’s dazzlingly clever), is a vapid homage to rebellion. What is being rebelled against, or who’s rebelling, or how, isn’t considered. A similar blandness, and adherence to cringe-worthy tropes we all hoped had been left behind in the naughties, haunts Green Day throughout the release. “Sugar Youth” bemoans how the narrator will “never ever, ever, ever fuck the prom queen” (the lead singer is 47); “I Was a Teenage Teenager” is promising, but still has to remind us that “school is just for suckers”; and “Take the Money and Crawl” encourages the listener to “suck my cock”. If you don’t, you needn’t worry, seeing as we are also hurriedly reminded that “I don’t give a fuck”.
The album is not without flare, but suffers from low-effort production and chord progreessions
The album is not without flare: “Junkies on a High” manages to combine timely concern for the future of earth with a deeper-seated nihilism, for example. The issue arises when the entire project is held together by low-effort production and chord progressions, twin testimonies to the lack of passion that’s gone into the release. Now on their 13th album, Green Day seem to be experiencing musical fatigue: they know that if they discuss the same three or four themes, they’ll sell enough CDs and downloads to make another album that’s just as soulless. Father of All Motherfuckers is what the band’s more virulent and misinformed detractors thought American Idiot was.
Rock was and is an opaque genre full of critics who have no sense of what is trying to be achieved. It seems a shame that those detractors have been fed an album that confirms every one of their misconceptions.
Last modified: 10th April 2020