Green Day was the band “nobody expected to grow up,” said Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone. But the same punk slackers who, on 1994’s Dookie, whined, “I’ve got no motivation,” surprised us in 2004 with American Idiot’s blistering disgust at the Bush administration. Now, on the “fresh and vital” 21st Century Breakdown, they’re screaming, “Gimme gimme revolution.”

With “do-or-die boldness,” Green Day dares to ask, Now what? said Greg Kot in the Chicago Tribune. Essentially a three-part punk-rock opera, the album is the band’s most ambitious effort yet, a “state-of-the-disunion address delivered by two kids” picking through the pieces of post-Bush America. In the old days, Green Day would have reacted to today’s depressing circumstances with a “series of one-fingered salutes.” Even today, the band doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. But when Billie Joe Armstrong sings, “I need to know what’s worth the fight,” in “See the Light,” it’s clear the band is at least looking for some understanding. Slackers no more, Green Day seems to realize that you can’t sit around waiting on the world to change.