Green Day deserves all the credit that a jaded punk community and a trendy mainstream audience can muster. While independently thriving on a major label since 1994, the Berkeley trio has managed to survive as a band for nearly a decade while musically evolving and maintaining a stunning level of catchy and intelligent songwriting. They’ve been love-struck fools in 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours and enraged crusaders with Insomniac, and now they’ve settled down and written a brilliant pop album. Warning is everything Green Day has to offer — unbridled energy, a poignant mentality and Billie Joe’s unmistakable nasal voice — all wrapped up in an eclectic group of songs that have the potential to simply blow their rocking load in one turbulent blast. But instead, the songs are more reserved than usual, which allows for their potency to seep through according to melody and tune instead gusto.
The album is a step in the direction of their previous record, Nimrod, and offers another acoustic guitar appearance (“Macy’s Day Parade”) not unlike “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” but with less flakiness. Also under the subheading of eclectic is “Misery,” a portrait of hapless city life written by the entire band that could fit appropriately within an off-Broadway musical, and the Irish-esque verses of “Minority.” In other tunes, Mike Dirnt’s bass is finding its way into the frontline of many songs, and a background acoustic guitar is taking away the sharper edge of Billie Joe’s previously heavily distorted guitar. There’s plenty of Dookie‘s poppy attitude seeping through Warning, but very little of its disillusioned content. Instead, Green Day speaks with an air of life experience and, while a simple twist of a volume and distortion knob could turn this album into a far more rocking effort than it is, their music screams with understood potential. That isn’t to say that there isn’t plenty of rock-n-roll on this album, because there is. But the boys in Green Day have grown up a little, and they’re not afraid to show it.