From the sexually frank “Basket Case” to the ubiquitous graduation anthem “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” to the politically charged “American Idiot,” there’s no denying Green Day’s proved their worth. Still, it’s somehow tough to look back and say we foresaw the band still challenging listeners come 2009. On the trio’s latest, 21st Century Breakdown, Billy Joe and Co. dish out a quasi-concept album (much like 2004’s American Idiot) that follows a young couple dealing with the aftermath of G.W. Bush’s reign. Songs move from the bloodthirsty call to arms of “Know Your Enemy” to the piano-driven past-versus-future-tense balladry of “¡Viva La Gloria!” and “¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)” to the lovelorn acoustic rock of “21 Guns” with seamless storytelling genius. Breakdown is one of those rare rock ‘n’ roll gems that speaks to and for an entire generation-and undeniably crowns Green Day as our perpetual punk rock kings.


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