Album Review: “Saviors” by Green Day

Punk veterans breeze through on their 14th album

You will be forgiven for thinking that a band that has been around for over 35 years, selling more than 90 million records and getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, might not have anything acutely fresh to say in their 14th album. Considering the lukewarm reception to their occasionally-catchy-but-mostly-bland last album “Father Of All …,” you would have a point. However, even if they could, Green Day is not the kind of a band to rest on their past laurels.

Collaborating with Rob Cavallo (who has produced, among others, Green Day’s stellar “American Idiot,” or “The Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance), Billie Joe, Mike, and Tré have delivered an album that sounds urgent, filled with some exuberant hooks, and just enough thought-provoking social commentary to make it worth putting on repeat. The result is some of Green Day’s best songs since “American Idiot.”

The punchy and vibrant production is apparent right from the opener “The American Dream Is Killing Me,” which manages to incorporate lyrics about the housing crisis, unemployment, social media, and conspiracy theories into a punchy, thrilling start.

“Look Ma, No Brains!” continues the momentum with lyrics about self-pity and helplessness that fit snugly with many other Green Day songs. “Bobby Sox” might have a repetitive chorus, but on closer listening, it reveals why it is an effective device. It is a simple, catchy, romantic song–except in the choruses, Billie Joe alternates between “Do you wanna be my girlfriend?” and “Do you wanna be my boyfriend?” which I interpreted as the protagonist being bisexual.

“One-Eyed Bastard” is one of the lyrically weaker songs on the album with the opening riff vaguely reminiscent of P!nk’s “So What.” Thankfully, things kick back into form again with “Dilemma,” where Billie Joe sings of his struggles with addiction with lyrics that are poignant yet uplifting (“I was sober, now I’m drunk again/ I’m in trouble and in love again”).

Even when they are delivering carefree, frenetic 2-minute bangers like “1981” and “Living In The 20s,” or bleak anti-cop ragers like “Coma City,” they sound as ferocious as ever. “Corvette Summer” feels markedly trite in comparison to the good-to-great songs surrounding it. “Suzie Chapstick” is a major highlight, which talks about nostalgia and unrequited love, with vocal harmonies that would not sound out of place in a Weezer song. Even when Green Day is borrowing sounds and lyrical ideas from their own catalog, the treatment is fresh, and the songwriting is tight enough to make most of these songs single-worthy.

However, Green Day saved the best for the last. “Father To A Son” is a heartfelt message from the protagonist to his son, over an instrumental palette not very different from earlier Green Day songs like “The Forgotten.” The opening lyrics are particularly striking –”You’re a lighthouse in a storm/ From the day that you were born/ A promise, father to a son.” I am sure this is going to be a highlight of their upcoming live shows supporting this album. The title track “Saviors” sheds light on a world that’s crumbling under the threat of destruction (be it spiritual or moral) and all we need are saviors to save us and make us believe in the good.

Unlike “American Idiot,” this song (and this album as a whole) takes jabs but not at anybody in particular, making it a work many people around the world can relate to. The album ends with a melancholic note with “Fancy Sauce,” evoking thoughts of unfulfilled dreams, death, and how the death of dreams might not be very different from actual death. While it is an odd choice as an album closer, the song itself rocks hard, increasing in intensity from verse to chorus, replete with a final crescendo that deserves to be played out at volume 11. 

Overall, “Saviors” is a solid effort from a band very much at the top of their game, and who have not lost their edge. It is a worthy addition to their discography, something that will satisfy old fans, and bring in new fans. When Billie Joe sings on “Saviors” –”We are the last of the rockers makin’ a commotion”- you know that’s a pretty bold, self-aware statement to make. However, listening to this album, it does sound like he’s spilling the truth. May Green Day keep rocking forever!!

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