Green Day
Credit: Sebastian Artz / Retna Ltd.

The punk aesthetic, like most provinces of youth, is ? often wasted on the not-young. Not so, Green Day; the tireless ? mid-thirtysomething trio will undoubtedly keep launching their scrappy sonic bottle rockets until the last guitar pick falls from their trembling, liver-spotted fists.

Indeed, on 21st Century Breakdown‘s chant-along lead single, ”Know Your Enemy,” frontman Billie Joe Armstrong howls, ”Overthrow the effigy/The vast majority/Burning down the foreman of control” with all the fervor of a high school anarchy club president. The band seem oddly immune ? to the fact that success — especially via their last album, 2004 blockbuster American ?Idiot — has rendered Berkeley’s gutter-boys-done-good accidental targets of their own ire. Snarling agitprop pronouncements tend to lose their authority (and context) when shouted from the mouths of Grammy-winning multimillionaires.

Give credit where thrashing, three-chord credit is due, however: No matter how arrested their style and subject matter, Green Day remain remarkably good at high-blast anthems that burrow directly into the pogo-ing, lizard-brain id. Cases in point: ? the thunderous title track; the Middle Eastinflected ”Peacemaker”; and a clutch of ? stirring punk power ballads in the tradition of 1997’s ”Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” and ’04 smash ”Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” On the poignant ”21 Guns,” Armstrong temporarily sheds his viva-la-revolution armor, pleading, ”Lay down your arms, give up the fight.” Otherwise, the ? battle — unflagging, if questionably age-?appropriate — rages on. B

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