by Nicolas Ruiz
Despite being a lifelong Green Day fan, I think I was only able to stomach Father of All Motherfuckers because I was tired of stomaching the same material since ¡Uno!. Up until now, this seminal group was in a steady decline after four lackluster albums last decade. No longer was the band experimenting with their sound like they did in American Idiot, or even as far back as Nimrod. As attentive fans kept receiving middle-of-the-road pop punk tracks that were decent at best, boring at worst, keeping up with Green Day became a chore. Their only saving grace was to experiment with a new style or sound and stop playing it as safe as they played it in the past decade.
So on the bright side, Green Day playing a style completely different from the audience’s expectations was a wave of relief. In fact, this new style they were attempting on the record was completely left-field, as it had been a long time since I had heard of any band experimenting with glam rock. Yes, the punk band, once known for starting mud fights at festivals and later for creating songs condemning the Iraq War, is going glam. Another new sound is the embrace of garage rock, and by doing this they essentially get rid of the sound of punk rock, but not quite the spirit. In fact, the general conception of Father of All Motherfuckers seems to revolve around simply jamming out, balls to the wall, without giving a crap towards what the the world thinks of it.
Boy, did they not give a crap.
I disagree with the idea of criticizing Green Day for not playing to their strengths or signature qualities. I can at least give them praise for leaving their comfort zone and trying something different. And honestly, the more garage-style songs from this album like “Meet Me on the Roof” and “Stab You In the Heart” are fun enough tracks to get something out of this album. But at the same time, the resulting music sounds stale! Even the more exciting songs couldn’t possibly separate themselves from more generic tunes of the past. It’s very hard to describe at least half of the tracks on here without some kind of conviction due to how boring and recycled they feel. Whenever l listen to “Oh Yeah!”, I get this feeling like I’ve heard this brand-new song one-hundred times over in the past decade, with its bland chorus, uninspired instrumentation, and a production so clean Imagine Dragons would be jealous. Half of the album runs its course through this musical void, and it’s thoroughly disappointing when it ends with “Graffitia”, a track so bland I could describe it the same way I described “Oh Yeah!”.
And even the better songs lack ingenuity. “Fire, Ready, Aim” – one of the more exciting tracks on this album – reminds me of the generic rock songs used as filler music in video games. I know I just praised “Meet Me on the Roof”, but take away the vocals and it literally sounds like it could be the background music for an ad on the new Ford F-150. On most of these songs I can imagine either a teenage girl running around in a Target commercial or Phil Swift demonstrating the applications of Flex Tape. My favorite songs on the record are “Sugar High” and “Father of All” (and that last one took a while to get used to). They have a more explosive energy that I think Green Day was intending, but even so, none of these can match the energy or creativity of past Green Day songs. And then when I consider how I’ve heard more interesting garage rock songs, I wonder why I would ever come back to this album, or even just a single track from this album.
It’s very weird commending Green Day for trying something different while simultaneously criticizing them for not actually making anything different. On the bright side, this album will likely go down in history as the one time post-2009 Green Day didn’t make generic pop punk. Even if it’s a bad album, I’d argue that it’s far more successful in generating attention for the band than their past four releases. But that doesn’t mean I’d ever want to return to this album. Green Day have to step it up, especially if a group of fans can “leak” a fake Green Day album and receive more critical success than the real deal (this actually happened!! Look up Magnum Opus of the Inglorious Kind). I can still hope that this dud was created as a result of the band desperate to fulfill their contract, and then I can hope that the next album will be better, but if any of that actually happens, I’ll be happy to leave this in the dust.