Green Day - Father of All Motherfuckers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Green Day

Father of All Motherfuckers (2020)


Four years ago I wrote a review for Green Day’s last album, Revolution Radio, and I trashed the album saying that Green Day seem to be following the market and safely trying to recreate only what brought them commercial success in the past, resulting in an uninspired and calculated album that contains none of what once made Green Day great. “Edgy, dangerous, dark, smart, innovative, heartfelt: these are all terms that have been used to describe Green Day at different points in their career, and none of them apply to this album.” Now, I’m realistic about what publication I write for and I know that Green Day are, most likely, not combing through the Internet to find some unpaid punk website critic’s opinion on their latest hit record. But you could almost believe that they read my review because their follow-up, Father of All Motherfuckers (known simply as Father of All in more polite circles), miraculously fixes everything that I criticized them for on Revolution Radio. Where Revolution Radio was devoid of soul,Father of All Motherfuckers is absolutely bursting with soul, sometimes literally.

I’ve seen a lot of people talking online about how much this album sounds like the Black Keys, including a meme that’s going around about it, and it infuriates me to no end, and not just because I despise the Black Keys. For starters, to be said to be a copycat of anything requires the thing being copied to be original, and contrary to popular belief, the Black Keys did not invent blues, R&B, Motown, or soul. To say that Green Day is pulling from the Black Keys is pretty silly when the more accurate statement would be to say that both bands are pulling from the same influences that have existed for several decades. Furthermore, while most Black Keys songs are six minute long musical torture sessions, Green Day never forgets that they’re a punk band on this album, and produce a collection of 10 tight, short, punchy punk songs with some classic influences and more liberal use of a distortion pedal than what can be found on any Black Keys song.

The title track, which was released as a single last year, is just drenched in Motown influences between the handclaps and Armstrong singing falsetto. “Meet Me On the Roof” is a fun R&B love song, while “Stab You in the Heart” is a fun little R&B hate song. “I Was a Teenage Teenager,” the song with the best title on an album that already has the great title of Father of All Motherfuckers,” mocks teen melodrama with its intentionally over-the-top lyrics. The lyrics on this album, by the way, are not as light and bouncy as the music. Armstrong is pulling together some really visceral imagery on this album whether he’s talking about “lying on a bed of blood and money” or “my pride is my pornography” the images really jump out. But my favorite song on the album has to be the barely two minute pop-punk treat, “Sugar Youth,” which is a pretty standard pop-punk tune with a killer hook and a bit of a soulful beat. Fans might notice on this song that Armstrong says the word “dangerous” in the chorus of the song with the exact same inflection as on “She’s a Rebel” from American Idiot in a very obvious callback.

My favorite Green Day album remains their criminally under appreciated 2000 album, Warning, and I really think of Father of All Motherfuckers is the sister album to Warning in many ways. That’s not to say that the two albums sound similar, because they don’t remotely, but more that the two albums mark the two times in their career where Green Day were most open to incorporating some different influences into the classic Green Day style. I’ve seen several people already say that this isn’t the Green Day they grew up listening to. But at the same time, if Green Day basically just put out the same album every time then someone (me) is going to write a review calling them on it. Father of All Motherfuckers is a danceable, feel-good pop album with some really stellar songwriting and, after the impotent Revolution Radio and the ludicrous ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy, seeing Green Day branch out a bit and succeed at something different is refreshing. It’s a sign of artists with a great deal of range and imagination who are far from done surprising us.