Punk wasn't supposed to get old. Its core foundation was built on tearing down music's aging elders and replacing them with something new, something vital. But as anyone who's sat through a Sex Pistols reunion tour or heard one of the albums the New York Dolls released in the 21st century will tell you, things didn't quite end up that way.

The three members of Green Day, all 51 years old at the time of the release of their 14th album, Saviors, evidently don't subscribe to this commandment, informally written when Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool were just getting out of diapers. They outgrew the genre for a while, embracing big conceptual ideas in the rock operas American Idiot (2004) and 21st Century Breakdown (2009) before slowly sliding back to less sprawling records.

Like 2020's Father of All Motherfuckers, Saviors is designed as a throwback to Green Day's fuss-free pop-punk heyday, complete with returning Dookie producer Rob Cavallo, who last worked with the band on their trio of 2012 albums, Uno!, Dos! and Tre! But the years, like the band, have moved on since Armstrong sang about getting high and masturbating all day; the carefree innocence of that time is long gone.

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So, Saviors starts with "The American Dream Is Killing Me," a politicized slice of American Idiot-like frustration over unrealistic expectations and inevitable disappointment. "From sea to shining sea / Whitewashed upon the beach / My country under siege," Armstrong sings over stabbing, riffing guitar. It's a fitting introduction to the LP, a just-over-three-minute reminder that Green Day hasn't abandoned its punk roots. But that sentiment loses some steam over its 15 tracks.

Saviors' best songs arrive early on: "Look Ma, No Brains!," "One Eyed Bastard" and "Dilemma" show up in the first third of the album and to varying degrees recall the band's Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown peaks. But the hammering riffs, singalong choruses and similar structures wear down on late-album throwaways "Living in the '20s" and "Father to a Son," which begins with acoustic shades of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)." Despite the occasional looking-back-at-life subject matter, Saviors is an old-school pop-punk record that's not quite grown up but not exactly springing with fresh life either.

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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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