Green Day has been my favorite band for the last 15 years. American Idiot ushered me in, and while I went back and enjoyed their earlier albums, I also found myself loving each album that has come out since then. Yes, even the trilogy, which was polarizing among fans and casual listeners alike. So when Green Day kicked off the Father Of All… era last September, starting with its unexpectedly different title track, many fans were confused, intrigued, and perhaps a bit nervous. Billie Joe Armstrong’s extensive use of falsetto divided fans’ opinions, particularly on that first single. The album’s short, fast nature – clocking in it at a mere 26 minutes – raised some eyebrows and questions. Even the choice of singles has been scattered, though by my estimate, “Oh Yeah!” raised my hopes.
Now that Father Of All… is finally here, I feel at once relieved and underwhelmed. It’s a fun and energetic album, to be sure. The songs are enjoyable and direct, and they balance old-school rock and Motown goodness with fresh, modern production. We get to hear Green Day side-step into different avenues of rock’s history, with some emphasis on 1960s soul and pop (though “Stray Heart” from ¡Dos! still wins in that department). Billie Joe fearlessly utilizes his upper register, yet we also get enough of his traditional vocals that it’s still readily identifiable as Green Day.
But on the other hand, the album feels a bit too straightforward and to-the-point. With such a short run-time, Father Of All… doesn’t have much room to breathe, feeling instead rather rushed and under-developed. It almost plays more like a mixtape than a proper album. A few more songs may have helped, but even the song lengths and structures could have benefited from extra time and experimentation. Although we get Green Day’s version of a music history lesson, they don’t throw in much that’s new and daring. As a whole, the album feels safe and incomplete.
On their own, the songs are fun and rollicking, and often sound cheerier than their lyrics would suggest. “Father Of All…” was a shocking lead single, but it will grow on you after enough listens. The rest of the songs are more instantly digestible, some demanding that you return to it soon after. Album closer “Graffitia” is a highlight here, and with a bit more bombast, could be developed into an anthem worthy of American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown, ¡Tré!, or Revolution Radio. “Junkies On A High” is perhaps the most experimental track here, and another standout both musically and lyrically. Other high points include the more straightforward “Sugar Youth” and of course the album’s best single yet, “Oh Yeah!”
Father Of All… is an enjoyable party album, and by no means the worst Green Day album. (That honor goes to Kerplunk, as much as some fans may fight me on this statement.) But it’s also not their best. In many ways, Father Of All… plays more like one of Green Day’s side projects – see 2008’s Foxboro Hot Tubs record Stop Drop And Roll!!! or 2018’s Love Is For Losers by The Longshot. Indeed, we at Hidden Jams have already compared the recent songs to The Longshot. If we want to liken Father Of All… to a Green Day album, it perhaps comes closest to ¡Dos!, though that record was much darker and grittier than today’s release. If we hadn’t seen the ambition of Green Day’s 2000s and 2010s albums, Father Of All… might feel more satisfying. Instead, it feels a bit too simple and short by comparison.
Father Of All… is a good album that will liven up Green Day’s discography, but it’s not one that will outshine its 21st century predecessors.
Track by Track
“Father Of All…” – The album opens with its title track and leas single. It was a shocking departure for the band, and already a polarizing song among fans upon its release last September. Billie Joe sings the verses in falsetto over a straightforward backdrop of guitar, bass, and drums, but it’s the choruses that really go off. The song is loose and carefree, unafraid of pushing boundaries, but also still recognizably Green Day. Even if it’s jarring at first, give it a few listens, because “Father Of All…” is actually pretty fun.
“Fire, Ready, Aim” – The second song was also the undeserving second single, mainly because of its use in the NHL. “Fire, Ready, Aim” opens with handclaps and falsetto crooning. It’s another party anthem, Billie Joe singing high in his modal voice, creating tension fitting the lyrics. He describes violent actions, repeatedly accusing, “You’re a liar” throughout the verses. It’s an energetic song that, like its predecessor, could have fit right in on Stop, Drop, And Roll!!! It may be the weakest song here – still fun, but not especially groundbreaking.
“Oh Yeah!” – Last month, we gratefully got “Oh Yeah!” as the third single. It begins with a familiar pumping drum beat, floating background vocals, and tight guitar and bass. They make a humming backdrop for frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics about being stuck among demons and heathens. The song truly breaks loose on its explosive, sunny chorus. Billie sings, “Everybody is a star; got my money and I’m feeling kinda low.” He might be sad, but the song – and especially this chorus – is sure to make you happy regardless. The chorus ends with its titular hook, itself sampled from Joan Jett’s 1980 cover of “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah).” Green Day’s “Oh Yeah!” is has been their best Father Of All… single yet, and the most instantly enjoyable.
“Meet Me On The Roof” – Coinciding with the album’s release, “Meet Me On The Roof” got a new music video today starring Gaten Matarazzo of Stranger Things. The song kicks off with handclaps and jangling piano, making a lighthearted atmosphere. The verses are straightforward, though Billie Joe’s new penchant for falsetto appears as echoes punctuating some lines. It’s a fun, old-school song that’s perhaps the most upbeat here.
“I Was A Teenage Teenager” – Mike Dirnt’s winding bass begins track five, easily the longest song here at a whopping 3:45. The verses start out nicely, with Billie Joe showing off some great vocals as he sings, “I don’t wanna freak you out, but I cannot lie.” However, the chorus takes it down a notch, a rather macho and flat bombardment of sound. It certainly sounds like old-school rock, but it’s not presenting much that’s new.
“Stab You In The Heart” – Green Day gets aggressive on the quick “Stab You In The Heart.” Guitar and a shrieked “waoww” kick things off. Billie Joe strains his voice as he exudes anger and violence throughout, pumping up the song, but a winding guitar on the chorus sounds too familiar. The sound breaks down to its end, closing with spacey laser synths.
“Sugar Youth” – Fast guitar opens “Sugar Youth” before bass and drums fill it out. The song is short, fast, and loud, and despite being fairly simple, something about it lifts it up. The verses and chorus work perfectly together, and perhaps it just feels like a classic Green Day tune in just the right way. It’s a highlight among the album’s more direct songs.
“Junkies On A High” – Weird blips usher in “Junkies On A High,” a song that provides a refreshing change of tempo and style. Genre-wise, this is the closest Green Day has veered to “Nightlife” since 2012. “Junkies On A High” is lazier, sleazy, even, as we dive into some deep and sad lyrics. The song is more introspective and serious, but it’s also more experimental and unique. It’s a strong highlight on Father Of All…, and one that will earn plenty of replays.
“Take The Money And Crawl” – Green Day takes a well-known phrase (“take the money and run”) and turns it on its head in this penultimate track. The song starts with static and lazy, Old West guitar before electric energy takes over. Billie Joe’s vocals are super distorted, and on the chorus his utterance of “crawl” gets broken up, giving the song extra dynamism. Other than that, “Take The Money And Crawl” is another straightforward, fun song.
“Graffitia” – Father Of All… ends with one of its highlights. Indeed, “Graffitia” is a powerful song that could have worked on 21st Century Breakdown or Revolution Radio. Bass and percussion open and ground the song, and musically the track almost feels celebratory. But the lyrics are deeper and more serious, and “Graffitia” gets a bit more political than most of the tracks on the album. It could have been developed into something even bigger, but even as it stands, “Graffitia” is a grand closing track.
Father Of All… Score: 3.5/5
Highlights on Father Of All… include: “Oh Yeah!,” “Sugar Youth,” “Junkies On A High,” and “Graffitia.”