Green Day – ¡DOS!
by Max Malsich (Sociology), published January 18th 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Green Day, it’s been awhile. I remember that day, way back in second grade, when I found a copy of Nimrod sitting in the back of my mom’s minivan, and, upon popping it into the stereo, was immediately invigorated by the energetic garage punk of your youth. I remember buying American Idiot a few years later, relishing the angsty political commentary of your adolescence with my brother and hordes of other black-clad middle schoolers.
And then we grew apart. That whole phase of my life drew to a close, and as the spectrum of light contained within my wardrobe expanded, so did my musical tastes, replacing the beauty I once found in “Wake Me Up When September Ends” with a sort of disgusted contempt for the musical tastes of my former self. Occasionally, I would hear of some reports from the frontlines of your career, such as your brief foray into the world of Broadway or another stint in rehab for Mr. Armstrong, but despite these, you quickly faded into obscurity for me, becoming just another one of those bands that I can’t help but be sort of embarrassed to say that I ever liked.
And yet, here we are. Reunited once again, with the catalyst for this meeting being your new album, ¡DOS! Now I’ll be honest, upon hearing that you guys were planning on coming out with a string of new albums over the course of four months, my initial response was not exactly one of excitement. I’m unfamiliar with the first of the trio, September’s ¡UNO! and honestly, I don’t plan on becoming well acquainted with its anchor, ¡TRÉ! but right now, ¡DOS! is my shit, pun somewhat intended, and I do harbor a number of thoughts on it.
To preface this, let me just say that I tried to go in with an open mind. I really did. And for the first minute or so, I was quite surprised to find myself not completely hating my life. But then “Fuck Time” dropped. The thumping toms of the intro hit me hard, and the combination of screeching power chords and processed lyrics reflecting a grimy, drugged-out 40 year old’s bedroom escapades didn’t really do much for me. But I stayed true to the plight, and continued onwards. However, after hearing Armstrong profess his love for truth or dare and spin the bottle on “Make Out Party” and then promptly beg for forgiveness from his true love on “Stray Heart”, I’d just about had enough. I couldn’t take anymore of the typical, over-produced rock hooks, the obnoxious drum fills, the lyrics devoid of relatability to anyone with a middle school diploma. My trek through the musical desert that is ¡DOS! lacked the complexity, richness, and variability that generally make these album-length journeys worthwhile.
But that wasn’t quite it. There was something else missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Stumped for the moment, I decided to reminisce and indulge in a little taste of childhood – your 1994 hit “Welcome to Paradise.” And boy, did it feel great. The sharp attack of the guitar grabbed my attention, and the combination of the dancing bass line and starkly real lyrics where you debate the true meaning of ‘home’ ensured my complete absorption in the moment.
Sure, the guitar might have been a bit gritty and dissonant back then. The drum fills may have been a little sloppy. The vocal harmonies may have been a tad questionable at times. But so what? That’s what made you you. That’s what made your music so vigorous, so relatable, so full of character, so real. Part of its beauty is its lo-fi quality, its sense of fun and imperfection that can never truly be replicated by any musical engineer. Attempting to recreate this sense of DIY liveliness in any of today’s high quality recording studios will inevitably sacrifice the essence of the music.
And that’s exactly what ¡DOS! is missing. By trying to harken back to the golden age of garage post punk bands while simultaneously balancing the production capabilities of the modern studio, it loses the essence of Green Day, and becomes a fish out of water, succeeding only in becoming fodder for the next round of Rock Band-type video games.
Well, Green Day, it’s been great. You guys have seen me through a lot, and believe me, I have the utmost respect for you for doing what you do and for helping to make me who I am. But I think this is it for us. Just like at the end of my middle school career, it’s time for us to split up. Except this time, it’s forever. Thanks for the memories, but come ¡TRÉ!, and any eventual subsequent albums, I’ll have to pass. You’ll find me in Paradise.
Recommended Tracks: Stop When the Red Lights Flash, Stray Heart