“Horseshoes and Handgrenades” would have been the perfect first single for 21st Century Breakdown, in my opinion. “I’m not fucking around” seems like the perfect first line to come back after five years of waiting for a new album, Billie Joe sings like he is attacking with a vengeance on here and sounds absolutely untouchable. He isn’t playing any games. Most of all, the song doesn’t play it safe; though it’s a bit repetitive it is still very exciting to listen to whereas, unfortunately, “Know Your Enemy” pales in comparison.
Like Sex Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun”, “Horseshoes” begins with a chanting soldiers march but instead introduces the song’s rip-roaring riff before Tré Cool pounds on the tom-toms to get things really rolling. In three and a bit minutes, Billie Joe Armstrong doesn’t really sing as he does melodically shout about destroying everything in his path and not giving a fuck about it. He has no respect for himself, labelling himself as ‘a hater’ and ‘a traitor’, so why should he care about what anyone else says? The solid wall of guitars made by Butch Vig’s production heighten Billie Joe’s delivery, providing a relentless riff that repeats for what seems like hours on end and come to a sudden stop after Billie’s snarling screams.
There’s a raw intensity captured in “Horseshoes” that doesn’t appear so much in the album, and it is the only one where the band go balls to the wall in their performance for the whole track.