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South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Green Day’s “Saviors” is a return to form, for better or worse.

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Reprise Records
“Saviors” was released Jan. 19 2024. Pitchfork gave the record a 5.1.

Green Day’s “Saviors” is a return to form, for better or worse.
Since the release of “Warning” in 2000, Green day has released an album around election season, and just like each passing election, I am filled with more and more dread.
They hit their peak this millennia with their groundbreaking 2004 record “American Idiot”, but since then it’s been a slow decline in quality. “21st Century Breakdown” was solid, but not nearly as impactful or consistent as its predecessor. “Uno” “Dos” and “Tre” was an experimental triple LP release that was sort of a mixed bag. “Revolution Radio” was an embarrassing mess. They reached rock bottom with 2020’s“Father of all…” which should barely be classified as music.
Now we’re here in 2024. Green Day has just released a new album hot off the controversy of their performance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve special, and because God is either cruel or doesn’t exist, I now have to talk about it. To some people’s surprise, the band whose name is a marijuana reference and is led by a man who is openly bisexual, somehow doesn’t support the party that started the war on drugs and ignored the AIDs epidemic. Easy mistake to make, I guess.
I am bringing this up just so everyone is on the same page. Green Day has always been at least slightly political, and their political views have rarely, if ever, changed. You don’t have to like their politics, but you can’t say that the band who wrote a diss track about the Bush administration were ever republicans. This is all relevant because “Saviors” is very openly political. Now that’s out of the way I can finally get into the music.
The album starts out on a surprisingly high note. “The American Dream is Killing Me” is easily the best song on the album. It’s got the best hook, it’s catchy, and it has a clear direction for what it wants to be. That said, there are a few things that I find questionable. First is the sort of breakdown/bridge. I’m not really a musician and can’t transpose it, but I’m pretty sure they rip the melody from “The First Noel” for parts of the song. It’s not bad, just weird.
The second thing I noticed was that the lyrics are kind of all over the place. The song is explicitly about the “American Dream”, but all Billie Joe does is refer to vague notions about homelessness and unemployment. Like, what does “Tik Tok and taxes” have to do with “The American Dream”? There are a couple broad notions to the housing crisis and gentrification, and owning property is kind of a part of what people think the American dream is about, but that’s still kind of a stretch. Even though I still like the song, I wanted to focus on those two elements because strange musical decisions and vague political gestures are a recurring problem throughout the album.
For a prime example of this look no further than the next song on the album “Look Ma, No Brains!”. It’s a song that refers to stupidity of the masses, like “American Idiot’s” title track, except witless and dull. It’s a two-minute song that has nothing to say that the band hasn’t already said better a thousand times.
. From here until about halfway through the record, things get goofy. For example, Green Day seems to think that screaming “DO YOU WANT TO BE MY GIRLFRIEND?” and singing “Bada bing, bada bing, bada boom” count as hooks. Unless you are asking someone out at a loud nightclub or are trying out your Tony Soprano impression, these are not hooks. They aren’t anything. They are just noise. This part of the album is also padded with a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” that sound like leftover soundbites from their last album which I hate.
“Goodnight Adeline” is when things start to get good again, and that really surprised me. It’s the first song on the album where they reel it back and have a slow moment, and I typically don’t really like those kinds of songs. I typically love fast paced, burn the house down, kind of songs, but this was the first song on the album that connected to me past a superficial level.
The next song “Coma City” is pretty take-it-or-leave-it, but “Corvette Summer” is laid back, catchy, and as a Blue Öyster Cult fan, I can really appreciate the cow bell. “Suzie Chapstick” is a dark and mysterious sounding love song that once again reminds me of Blue Öyster Cult’s later work. “Strange Days are here Again” and “Living in the ‘20s” are solid pop punk anthems. “Father to a son” is a touching song that I could definitely see someone connecting with. The title track feels reminiscent of some of the deep cuts from “21st Century Breakdown”, and “Fancy Sauce” is a relatively powerful album closer.
After listening to this album in full, I think it really exposed the band’s major strengths and weaknesses.
While I can name a handful of bangers that Green Day has released over the decades, just off the top of my head, I think they are at their best when they are slow and heartfelt. While songs like “Basket Case” and “Hitchin a Ride” do slap, there is a reason that “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” have persisted for all these years. When he wants to, Billie Joe can deliver an extremely touching performance and can appeal to a variety of different emotions.
It also exposed their biggest that the band has always had, and that is their political writing. It is beyond shallow and always has been, but I didn’t realize that until listening to this record because the quality of the music was able to mask it. For all the flack I gave people thought that Green Day’s politics changed or that they weren’t political in the first place, I do at least get how they could subconsciously look past all that, because the tunes were just that good.
Green Day’s observations of America’s issue never go beyond surface level. It’s one thing to say that you “don’t want to be a part of a MAGA agenda”, but it’s another thing to say that you hate the system that the “MAGA agenda” stands for. And I say this as someone who leans far to the left politically. Even the song “American Idiot” is lazy in its criticism of mainstream media and the feeble-minded masses. Yeah, there’s a problem with our current system of media. What is it? Elaborate on that. Quit stating the obvious and make an attempt to be insightful.
In a lot of ways “Saviors” is a return to form, for better or for worse. Even though they have released some real disappointments over the years, I am still begrudgingly glad that they are still around. If you’re into pop punk, you would probably like at least half of this album.Honestly, if you were to cut songs “Look Ma, No Brains” through “1981” and “Coma City”, you would have a solid 7.5 record here. Maybe even an 8. Sadly I have to take everything into account, and the first half really is that bad, so I’m going to give it a 5.9/10.

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Jack McCarty, Entertainment Editor

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