Green Day announced their Father Of All… album at the same time that they announced the Hella Mega tour, a stadium trek that will see them cross the country this summer with Weezer and Fall Out Boy. Those three bands could surely fill stadiums and delight audiences based on their catalogs. That’s especially true of Green Day, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame five years ago. They have two indisputable classic albums — 1994’s Dookie and 2004’s American Idiot — and tons of great songs from their other albums as well. They don’t need any new material at this point, and they have nothing to prove.
Except that they seem to think that they do. Father Of All… splits the difference between having ambition and keeping baseball stadiums filled with fans in their seats. Clocking in at 26 minutes, it’s their shortest full-length album ever. The ten songs never outstay their welcome, but they still show Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool trying some new things, while still staying connected to their punk and power-pop roots.
Working with producer Butch Walker – who has made records with Avril Lavigne, Pink and Katy Perry as well as Weezer, Fall Out Boy and the Struts – they try a few new tricks, including sampling the chorus to Joan Jett’s cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” on “Oh Yeah.” That’s a pretty radical departure from their usual sound; in other places, the experimentation is not quite as jarring. “Graffitia” sounds like E Street Band meeting the Clash, circa 1980. Many of the songs feel like were cut from Green Day’s 2008 side project Foxboro Hot Tubs for sounding too current, and they’re revisiting them now and adding a modern pop sheen.
The album isn’t what you’d expect on any level: for the first few songs, there are points where it barely sounds recognizable as Green Day. The lyrics are surprisingly devoid of politics; while American Idiot was the band’s charged commentary on the George W. Bush era, Armstrong recently told Rolling Stone that he had problems writing songs about Donald Trump. So the lyrics barely reference our current political climate. Armstrong has said that the album is about “not giving a f—” and being “the life and death of the party.” Like any good partygoer, they don’t overstay their welcome and they no longer seem like they give a hoot about making big statements, or about being at the center of pop culture. Which is kind of how they started.
Father Of All… won’t change the world, and it probably won’t be their most critically acclaimed album. But it’s a fun album and it won’t send anyone to the bathrooms during the Hella Mega tour. But better than that, you might be hoping to hear them playing some of these songs in 2021 and beyond.