Billie Joe Armstrong goes back to the future on his best album since 2004's 'American Idiot'
Green Day’s last album, 2016’s ‘Revolution Radio’, was hailed by NME as something of a return to form – not a stellar statement on the scale of 2004’s acclaimed politicised rock opera ‘American Idiot’, but not the weary embarrassment that was 2012 triple album ‘Uno! Dos! ¡Tré!’, either. This freewheeling Billie Joe Armstrong side-project finds the frontman further energised and, this time round – unlike on that ill-advised triple album – he sounds like he’s having masses of fun.
If Green Day’s musical palette has never exactly been sophisticated or complex, it remains true that ‘Love Is For Losers’ sounds especially simplified and freed-up, if only for the fact that there’s no weight of expectation or sense of obligation to address politics. Though ‘Revolution Radio’ was not entirely focused on current affairs, it was released around the last US Presidential Election and featured protest songs such as ‘Bang Bang’, a howl of despair at mass Stateside shootings. These, by contrast, are straight-up, fun, dumb party chants that riff on classic, all-American rock’n’roll.
Armstrong sounds like Marty McFly from Back to the Future as he shreds through the guitar solo on opening track ‘The Last Time’, which is hooked around a chugging rockabilly groove, handclaps and even doo-wop vocals. You’ll wanna crank up the Deloreon stereo and sing: “Go, Billie, go!” ‘Chasing The Ghost’, cheerfully satirises his status as a 46-year-old punk rock upstart (“Hang from the chandelier from a long, long time ago… I ain’t the same /Ain’t it a shame? Yes to the painkillers on a Saturday night!”) and rides the lean rock’n’roll rhythms of ‘Cult Hero’ with carefree lyrics on which he happily hands over the reins of Green Day’s empirical phase.
Highlight ‘Turn Me Loose’ opens with percussion lifted from 2004 hit ‘Holiday’, before morphing into a joyous monster mash of Chuck Berry guitar and a ludicrously jaunty refrain that promises, “I’m gonna start a racket / I’m gonna start a riot.” In the midst of addiction and creative exhaustion, Armstrong had an infamous onstage meltdown at the 2012 iHeartMusic Awards, but ‘Love Is For Losers’ finds him firmly in control, making his best album since ‘American Idiot’.