Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Oct. 15, 2004
Green DayAmerican Idiot (Reprise)
Even if it's not as catholic as Rock Against Bush, or as ideologically dependable as Ted Leo, American Idiot is one of the most politically volatile albums to come out since the ascension of the Accidental President. It's also the best album of Green Day's 12-year career. How else to explain a band that became famous with songs about masturbation and multiple personalities coming on like a punk rock version of the Daily Show? To be sure, Idiot won't get many spins at GOP campaign rallies, but the Berkeley, Calif., trio is driven not so much by a desire to unseat the current administration as a need to skewer the rampant complacency that's seeped into every corner of private and public life. It's best expressed in the two multiple-song suites that document the rise and fall of one "Jesus of Suburbia," one man's futile struggle to bring meaning to a life lived amid an economic and cultural wasteland. Both simmer with a potent cocktail of disillusionment and hope, and a much subtler type of anger than the kind that pervades the incendiary opener/title track and "Holiday." None of this would mean a damn thing if, musically, Green Day weren't firing on all cylinders. But they are, and American Idiot is a striking example of what happens when a band decides to wake up and smell the gasoline.