Rock opera and punk are usually two mutually exclusive musical styles. Then again, Green Day has never followed any rock rulebook, so it's not entirely surprising that the trio crafted a punk-rock opera that takes the Bush administration and its policies to task. It doesn't get any more pointed than a couplet from the frenetic title cut that states, "I'm not a part of a redneck agenda/Now everybody do the propaganda!"
Under the guidance of any other group of agitated punks, the results of such an undertaking could easily become didactic. But with creative spearhead Billie Joe Armstrong at the helm, AMERICAN IDIOT is melodically driven, with the kind of intellectual bent that allows for a pair of mini-operas, "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming." Trimmed with a light sprinkling of piano and a big guitar sound occasionally reminiscent of Mott the Hoople, the former skewers the hypocrisy that can pervade small-town life. The latter is equally effective, as clever time changes and sonic flourishes (glockenspiel, doo-wop harmonies, honking saxophone) serve as an intriguing counterpoint to the band's hook-laced riffs.