Green Day returns with their shortest album yet, Father of All Motherfuckers, clocking in at just over 26 minutes. This was a key selling point of the album during its promotion, with Billie Joe Armstrong noting he no longer liked long songs, refusing to listen to anything over 3 minutes. Another critical point made during the promotion of FOAM was that it would not be political and would instead essentially be a giant raging party in an album. Both of these concepts sounded super interesting and enticing, as they each trend towards a return to the Dookie era.
However, it is just not executed well. There have been worse albums from bands akin to Green Day in the past year; notably Weezer’s Black Album and Blink-182’s Nine, but to say that Father of All Motherfuckers is a “good” album is giving it a little too much credit. FOAM does hold its own sound in terms of a Green Day record, but it is probably the most basic and, to be honest, boring of all the sounds this band has tried out. Experimentation is attempted here and there with numerous vocal modulations and instrumental effects to try and create an overall dance-happy vibe across the tracks; however, those attempts at creativity are eventually overwhelmed by hand claps found in every pop song since the early 2000’s and chord-heavy progressions.
The album is, in my opinion, Green Day’s worst release to date, but it is still an average record. It’s not good, it’s not bad. It just sort of exists. There are some elements that can genuinely be enjoyed but there are an equal number of moments that are just plain bad. The entertaining elements include some of the catchier melodies, a few neat bass riffs, and some mild exploration into new subgenres. The chunks that are worse for wear include some of the lyrics (“I’m hangin’ with the cholos”, “You can take a walk or you can suck my cock”, etc.), some chord progressions we’ve already heard from this band even as recent as two albums ago, and the production quality in some instances. Some of the songs are focused so heavily on the instrumental production that Billie is drowned out.
Going track-by-track, Father of All is a fine opener. It’s fine. Not a huge fan of falsetto being the main vocal driver but ok. The overall energy and some of the guitar stuff was neat. “Fire, Ready, Aim”: pretty bad. This and the following track, “Oh Yeah!”, are so focused on hand claps and crowd-pleasing cheer sections that it feels like their choruses/main hooks are forced into the songs randomly much like trying to make a square block fit in a circular hole. “Meet Me on the Roof” is upbeat enough to grab your attention but doesn’t wow, especially with a chorus filled with “oh-o-oh”s everywhere. Oh also I wanna just quickly address that somebody should have stopped Billie Joe from saying “cholo” like it was no big deal in this one.
“I Was a Teenage Teenager” is basically a pre-chorus and a chorus repeated from start to finish and is pretty boring for a song that is supposed to evoke nostalgia and feelings of anarchy (“School is just for suckers”). “Stab You in the Heart” is an attempt at some 70s-style rock, but it’s a chorus riff we’ve already heard 800 times, even by Green Day themselves (reference: “Fuck Time”). “Sugar Youth” is actually the best track on this record. Despite some lyrical issues, this track has the most energy on the album and also has some of the best melodies. The chorus is very catchy.
“Junkies on a High” is the worst track on the album. Very slow, very dull, and just doesn’t have much to say. “Take the Money and Crawl” and “Graffitia” are two high points for this album to close out on. Neither is a mind-blowing track by any means but they have catchy choruses, entertaining instrumentals, and convey different moods/styles than the earlier tracks. “Take the Money and Crawl” also has the simultaneous best and worst lyric of the record: “You can take a walk or you can suck my cock”. Isn’t that just a beauty? The days of quality songwriting for this band have seemingly come to a close, as has any hope for Mike Dirnt to truly go off on bass. While there have been some cool little bass fills and riffs here and there, the bass style that was immediately recognizable in Green Day’s early records is now hidden behind maniacal chord-bashing. Even when the bass takes spotlight, it’s just simple steady root note bass riffs.
I wanted so badly for this album to be good and a return to form for Green Day. It’s a shame that such a disappointing and low-energy album resulted from all the hype of FOAM and the Hella Mega Tour. Billie Joe recently claimed there were even 7 or so more songs recorded for Father Of All that didn’t make the cut but will be released down the road. Yay?
Best Tracks: Sugar Youth, Take the Money and Crawl, Graffitia
Worst Tracks: Oh Yeah!, Fire Ready Aim, Stab You in the Heart, Junkies on a High
Overall Grade: D+
(it gets a + for the batshit “You can take a walk or you can suck my cock” line. Don’t @ me.)