At this point, it's absurd to affix the word "punk" to any description of Green Day's music: Its best-selling 1994 breakthrough Dookie had a lot more to do with pop hooks than fuck-all sneering or fake English accents, and subsequent albums have shifted ever further in the direction of all-out power-pop. There's no soppy ballad a la "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" to ensure chart success for the new Warning—the acoustic guitars that introduce several tracks seem like a winking tease—but Green Day has never made a record so slick and musically mature. Purists may sneer, but since when have purists bought Green Day records anyway? Warning announces its formula right away, with its title track unleashing a densely produced blast of layered vocals, strummed acoustic guitars, and something about becoming "a victim of authority." From there, it's one tightly wound, overdriven pop-rock song after another, with only the strangely plodding, five-minute (!) "Misery" to disrupt the album's engaging flow. At times, the musical backing is almost comically proficient: With a mandolin, a saxophone, and a "Love Me Do"-style harmonica making cameos (on "Blood, Sex And Booze," "Jackass," and "Hold On," respectively), Warning makes it harder than ever to speak of Green Day in the same breath as anything resembling punk. But when the songs are as catchy as "Church On Sunday," does it matter?

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