Stop Drop and Roll

Foxboro Hot Tubs' debut sounds awfully familiar.Those buzzing power chords in "Alligator"? Cribbed from the Kinks' "You Really Got Me." That sleazy organ whine in "Ruby Room"? Straight out of Strawberry Alarm Clock's "Incense and Peppermints." Stop Drop and Roll is a time-machine blast back to the mid-Sixties moment when guitars got fuzztoned and pot smoke began billowing out of the garage. And, oh yeah, Foxboro Hot Tubs also sound an awful lot like Green Day. Because they are Green Day.

Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool have played nudge-and-wink identity games before: In 2003, they performed under the New Wave nom de rock the Network. But Foxboro Hot Tubs is a chance for these 35-and-over rockers to get back in touch with their inner glue-sniffing brat. In the torrid title track, Armstrong impersonates a teenager hopped up on illegal stimulants and testosterone. "Sixteen and a son of a bitch," he yelps as the guitars rumble. "Got a gun and a strychnine twist."

That teen-rebel romanticism might seem like a self-mocking, self-mythologizing move. (You can practically hear Armstrong's tongue in his cheek when he trades in his punker's spiked hair for a greaser's pompadour in "Mother Mary": "Do you want to elope tonight?/Getting lost in the shadows/All dressed up like a switchblade knife.") But there is some anxiety lurking amid the raucousness. American Idiot upped the ante on Green Day's career, elevating them to the ranks of heroic rock standard-bearers who condemned President Bush, recorded nine-minute suites and scooped up Grammys. So Stop Drop and Roll is a holding-pattern disc — away to keep things light as they ponder their next move in a high-stakes megacareer. But might it also point the way forward? One of the best songs here is "27th Ave Shuffle," a raggedy boogie in which Armstrong sounds very grown up as he ponders crises personal and global: "Things are so much harder now/No matter how I try/Junkyard days and toxic waste/Still love is on my mind." It's a less grandiose anthem than, say, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," but it cuts twice as deep. Green Day could learn a thing or two from this scruffy little band.

From The Archives Issue 1053: May 29, 2008
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