Green Day hasn't had much to offer since its ode to youth combustibility (Dookie) and its backhand to the underground-punk backlash (Insomniac). Nimrod, best known for the prom-night sap of "Good Riddance," was phoned-in spew. Warning posited the band as agit-pop dad rockers willing to play bar mitzvahs if all else failed. But Green Day avoids its third straight irrelevant record with the purposeful American Idiot, a punk-rock opera that loosely follows the lives of three characters -- Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy, and Whatsername -- through personal and political upheaval. Idiot hits standard Green Day buttons -- clichés glued together by lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong's snotty disdain and spiky guitar riffs -- but the unified theme and the tight execution make the album a deviation from the band's status quo. The wicked, sock-it-to-Dubya lyricism of "Holiday," the Broadway-friendly twists and turns of suites such as "Jesus of Suburbia" and the exhausted, drug-hungry "Give Me Novacaine" are enough to make you believe in these guys all over again.