After the multi-platinum success of their previous album, «Dookie», Green Day were in a bit of a rut. On the one hand, they wanted to evolve; on nthje other hand, if they changed their sound too much, critics and fans alike would lambast them. So in their fourth outing, «Insomniac», the band wisely opted for a compromise.
As soon as «Armatage Shanks» starts up, it feels like «Dookie» all over again. In fact, this song is so close to «Chump» or «Sassafras Roots» it nearly borders on self-plagiarism. «Brat» and «stuck With Me» do little to dispel this notion. But then along comes «Geek Stink Breath», which starts on a Clashian riff and evolves into a rhythm section reminiscent of «When I Come Around». «No Pride» is a rip-snortin’, take-no-prisoners punk rock anthem that ranks among the best this album has to offer; while «Brain Stew» could have been an attempt to cash in on nu-metal, if not for the fact that it hadn’t even been invented yet. :D And the album goes on in this guise, with the «Dookie»-esque songs siding up with some valid punk-rock experimentation to create a wholesome album.
But of course, this is not without its flaws. The main one concerns choruses. There is simply nothing as immediately effective here as there was on «Dookie», and even the best choruses on this one will need a couple of extra listens in order to sink in. The noteworthy exception is «Stuart and the Ave.», which ironically ranks as the best song on the album. Another weak point are songs like «86» and «Panic Song», that sound like mere filler, with Billie Joe’s «social misfit» lyrics starting to sound a bit cliché and ready-made. But they are fully compensated by the stronger numbers, and overall this is one that, unlike follow-up «Nimrod», is sure to please the fans.
1 – Armatage Shanks – The album starts up, and it sounds like «Dookie» hasn’t finished yet. A song so similar to certain numbers on «Dookie» that you can’t help but frown. Still a great punk rock tune, though. (3,5/5)
2 – Brat – An improvement on the former tune with a helplessly catchy chorus and delightful lyrics about, well, a brat. Still too close to «Dookie» for comfort, but we’re going somewhere. (4/5)
3 – Stuck With Me – Good punk rock tune that sounds like Green Day without sounding like «Dookie». Another insanely catchy chorus once you learned it… (4,5/5)
4 – Geek Stink Breath – This one will seem kinda blah at first, but then ypu get to chorus and you find that it’s actually an excellent slab of what is generally called «melodic hardcore». (4/5)
5 – No Pride – Ooh yeah! All the GD trademarks are here, from Mike Dirnt’s inventive bass fills to Tre Cool’s acrobatic drums. The result is one of the best songs on this album, and indeed GD’s catalogue. (5/5)
6 – Bab’s Uvula Who? – Another very famous, but frankly kinda blah, song. Pure filler (3/5)
7 – 86 – More filler. Despite good riffing, the chorus fails to deliver. (2,5/5)
8 – Panic Song – And yet more filler, as a long buildup develops into a fairly uninteresting slab of generic punk rock . (2/5)
9 – Stuart and The Avenue – Now THIS is more like it! Absolutely the best song on the album, with a delightful little bass run in the beginning and great shout-along lyrics throughout. Brilliant (5/5)
10 - Brain Stew – This starts off sounding like a revamped «Clash City Rockers», then develops into a stomping, metal-tinted anthem sure to rock your socks off (5/5)
11 – Jaded – This album’s version of «In The End». No more than average, but good chorus. (3,5/5)
12 – Westbound Sign – Another good song that lacks a little more chorus. (3,5/5)
13 – Tight Wad Hill – Another great chorus in a driving song about a junkie (I think-… :p) (4,5/5)
14 – Walking Contradiction – A good ending note for this album, slightly reminiscent of the slower songs from Rancid. (3,5/5)