Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The hosannas heaped on Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown by a couple of my favorite critics worry me a little. I don't hear a note of the commitment, songcraft, and political acumen they seem to think runneth out of every pore. They hear maturity; I hear a band confident enough to embrace the garbled agitprop and received liberalism they ignored in their youth when were too busy recording superior albums of comfortable but not painless apoliticism. It's like three obnoxious graduate students cornering you at a bar to convince you of the "realness" of Kurt Vonnegut. As Theon put it:
This is a seventy-minute lump of three thirtysomething fuckwads yelling received ideas about "revolution" over guitars that just grind and grind and grind and grind and contort themselves in the dullest ways unless they decide to drop out for some cocktail piano
Or what H.L. Mencken famously said about Warren G. Harding's prose:
It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.
I can understand how teens looking for gateway drugs might hear chimes of freedom (imagine it's 1976 and Wings at the Speed of Sound teaches you how to hear Rubber Soul), but adults should know better, especially adults whose greatest strength is letting the enthusiasm they honed in their youth inform their adult quests for wisdom.


Hans said...

You miss the fact that those adults kind of temporarily atrophy their brains in order to review Green Day. You gotta learn how to do it, if only to enjoy things that are only enjoyable by the very young and ignorant. :-) Kind of selective innocence.

Anonymous said...

"American Idiot" was HUGE and it pretty much was: "Oooh the government is evil/ St. Jesus won't listen to TV/ are my dreams fading away in the rain?" Sometimes you just gotta grade on a curve.