After 30 years as a band and with 11 albums under their belt, you might wonder what Green Day have to say in 2016. ‘American Idiot’ was a searing indictment of George W Bush-era USA and ‘21st Century Breakdown’ was a not-all-bad attempt at updating it for 2009. With Trump doing his thing in the presidential race, there’s plenty to say they could easily tackle that subject matter again now – but after slogging through the trio of albums, ‘Uno!’, ‘Dos!’ and ‘Tre!’, the fans want them to remember the importance of big tunes and quality control, too.
‘Bang Bang’, the first single from their forthcoming album ‘Revolution Radio’ marks a return to the punk promised land, but modern-day issues run through the track’s DNA. In an interview with Rolling Stone Billie Jo Armstrong said that the song was inspired by “the culture of mass shooting that happens in America mixed with narcissistic social media”. Lyrically, that much is obvious. ‘I’ve got a fever for violent behaviour/I’m sweating bullets like a modern Romeo,’ Armstrong chants as he addresses the madness that is spreading in the US – and the world – right now.
Musically, it’s classic Green Day; limited power chords used to furious effect, a maelstrom of abrasive punk rock that’s aided by Mike Dirnt’s rumbling bass and Tré Cool’s on-point drumming. On this evidence, Green Day have found a way to stay relevant. The message in ‘Bang Bang’ isn’t a wooly one; it pins you against the wall and forces you to listen up. A fitting way to return, then.