"American Idiot" may have earned Green Day a number one best selling album, but there are those among their fans who like their pop punk a little more, well, fun; those who don't care to be lectured about the evils of society. "21st Century Breakdown" continues in it's precursors vein as a concept album in three acts, loosely following young couple Christian and Gloria and their struggle with the modern condition. "Song of The Century" sets the tone from the get go - "Sing us a song of the century/That's louder than bombs and eternity/The era of static and contraband/That's leading us back to the promised land." It's not the fact that this is a concept album, but the know-it-all attitude that occasionally comes across that sticks in your throat.
The worst offenders are a slew of underwhelming (profound content or not) ballads, "Restless Heart Syndrome" and "Last Night on Earth" among them. Still, it wouldn't be a Green Day album without their characteristic punk guitar strum, melded harmonies and Billy Joe Armstrong's unmistakeable vocals leading the way. But it's a formula so well worn that single "Know Your Enemy" and the plodding "Last Of the American Girls" can become just a little predictable for their own good and so fail to astound.
That's not to say that Green Day have exhausted all their resources. Despite a questionable spoken intro ("And we will see how godless a nation we have become") and a chorus which proclaims "A fire burns today, of blasphemy and genocide," "East Jesus Nowhere" is still one of the most kick ass punk songs here. Green Day are still adept in their primary genre, but the strongest moments come with the more atypical Jewish and gypsy punk influences that reign over "Peacemaker" & "Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)".
All in all, your enjoyment of "21st Century Breakdown" will probably depend on whether you see Green Day as the spokesmen of a disgruntled generation, or three pompous, sanctimonious big mouths.