American Idiot--widely described as a "punk-rock opera"--comes full circle, back to Green Day's 1994 mainstream breakthrough Dookie. That album detailed the raging, Generation X boredom of teen punks; Idiot is ostensibly a chronicle of one of those burnouts 10 years later--still frustrated and angry, but this time having a quarter-life crisis and feeling oppressed by a suffocating political climate.
But where Dookie's themes felt galvanizing enough to shake the Mohawks out of their ennui, Idiot's indignation feels as buttoned-up as a Gap dress shirt. This is largely because of the ambitious sprawl of the music, which too often strays from rabble-rousing snarls to uninteresting flirtations with overblown power balladry and generic pop-punk. Which is a shame, since there are also some truly fantastic moments: The title track is a whir of throttling chords and punching-bag beats, while the nuanced, acoustic-electric friction sizzling on "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" lends emotional richness. Still, as with many attempts at concept albums, Green Day's ambition outreaches its execution.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.