WHO ARE THEY? Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt. AKA three of the world’s richest punks. And no wonder: After dropping a Dookie in their early days, the Bay Area power trio won over the masses with radio-ready chart-toppers like When I Come Around and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) — then parlayed that into massive success and Broadway glory with the political rock-opera concept album American Idiot. How did they do it? The answer is right there in their first single: By taking the Longview.
WHAT IS THIS? Their 13th studio album — and despite its title, it is not an album about the current POTUS. In fact, in some ways Father of All Motherfuckers is designed to be the opposite of American Idiot: Clocking in at just 27 fat-free minutes, fashioned from a double handful of chunky little riff-rock nuggets and devoid of mutli-song narratives, power ballads or theatrical aspirations, it’s their latest bid to reconnect with their goofball pop-punk past. Though of course, Billie Joe can’t resist the urge to weigh in on everything from social media and gun control to alienation and apathy. So, it’s more father than mofo, really.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The rock-album equivalent of a jukebox musical. From stem to stern, this disc comes on like a mashup of great bands from the past and present — including (but not limited to) Jimi Hendrix, The Hives, Black Keys, Portugal. The Man, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Beach Boys, The Clash and Mitch Ryder. You’ll hear bits and pieces of them all over the course of these 10 tracks (along with a few others I still haven’t placed). If you’re being diplomatic, it’s homage. If not, well, there are plenty of other words you can use. One with the letters MF springs to mind.
WHAT ARE THE MOST REVEALING LYRICS? “Everybody is a star / Got my money and I’m feeling kinda low / Everybody got a scar / Ain’t it funny how we’re running out of hope?”
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? You’re Still As Young As You Feel, Right? Right?
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? On the high-tech, expertly tuned six-channel stereo of your luxury sedan — as you cruise along wearing an old ripped T-shirt and leather jacket you dug out of the closet, and slowly drive past the old punk club you used to haunt before heading back home to your gated community.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Nostalgic, familiar, derivative, melodic, crunchy, catchy, accessible, cynical, topical, underwhelming.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Perhaps ironically, the ones that most sound like someone else. Like, f’rinstance, Stab You In The Heart (which channels Hippy Hippy Shake), Fire, Ready, Aim (which might remind you of several Hives songs, especially Hate To Say I Told You So) and the title cut (which borrows the main riff from Jimi Hendrix’s Fire — and given the litigiousness of his estate, I’d say they are indeed playing with fire).
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘Well, at least they’re stealing from some good bands. But really, this just makes me want to dig out all my old albums.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Only a few times — which is about as long as it takes to figure out all the bands and songs they’ve nicked.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A RADIO SHOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? The commercial-free all-request drive-time power-hour on an FM station named after a dude.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? You don’t need to pay for these songs. Hell, you probably already own some of them.