Review Summary: What happens when you take Green Day's loathed trilogy, remove the overproduction, add a few doses of energy and punk rock spirit and condense it into a nineteen track experience? Demolicious.
Green Day have pretty much become a musical laughingstock over the last few years. From Billie Joe Armstrong’s drunken breakdown at the iHeartRadio music festival to whatever the hell “Nightlife” was supposed to be, the 2010s have not been a good decade for one of the most prominent bands to come out of the 90s punk scene. The release of the ¡Uno!
trilogy not only lost them a number of fans, but also provided their detractors with more material to use against them. Even I, a once loyal fanboy so devoted I named the first portion of my username after what used to be my favorite band, couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with the subpar quality of the three albums. Sure, ¡Dos!
wasn’t as bad as its 2.2 Sputnik average suggests, and ¡Tre!
saw the band make their best album in eight years, but the trilogy as a whole had Green Day at their lowest point in terms of their lyrics and songwriting.
Nevertheless, when Mike Dirnt posted a picture of Demolicious
’ cover on Instagram with the caption “this is how ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! would have sounded if we were still on Lookout Records”, the inner fanboy in me couldn’t help but scream for joy. After all, Green Day were giving us demos of about half of the trilogy’s material, plus an unreleased song. Even though there may have been better
things to buy on Record Store Day, Demolicious
was the album that I anticipated the most. Would the original recordings of the much-maligned trilogy offer a glimpse of hope that the Green Day I once loved could still churn out good music?
Rob Cavallo’s production on the albums is something that plagued ¡Uno!
(and to a lesser extent, ¡Dos!
), earning it the respectable position as Green Day’s worst album yet. Every riff was overpolished, vocal effects were added to Billie Joe’s voice, and the instrumentals were given a treble-laden sheen that translated into sharp wailing. His work on Insomniac
made the album darker and grittier – eighteen years later, it has to be reversed in order to achieve the same effect. Tracks like “Oh Love” and “Rusty James” benefit the most from this because the overproduction caused them to sound more poppier than they should have. The former, which I completely despised on ¡Uno!
, is made into a decent song by actually letting Mike Dirnt’s bassline show and eliminating the grating enhancers put on Billie’s vocals. Even “Let Yourself Go”, one of the trilogy’s clear standouts, is better in demo form – it’s got a more old-school punk vibe á la The Clash or the Ramones, plus the harmonies between Billie and Mike are more prevalent (even the stupid “fuck fuckin’ with my head line” gets cut out). Demolicious
’ greatest strength is that it’s more easy to listen to than the trilogy – the demos actually give a more pleasuring listening experience than the final recordings. It even gives the ¡Dos!
tracks the garage rock feel that Billie intended it to have in the first place.
At the same time, Demolicious
is essentially nothing but the español albums without production added onto it. Everything else is still intact, right down to the cringeworthy lyrics. Why Billie ever thought that singing “drinking angel’s piss” or rhyming “sex, drugs and violence” with “English, math and science” was acceptable is beyond me, and when a forty-year old man admits that “[he] pissed the bed” while playing spin-the-bottle and truth or dare, it’s a cause for concern. Even though Green Day were never known for deep, thoughtful lyrics until they tried to shed their lyrical past with American Idiot
(this is the same band that scored a number-one hit with a song about masturbation and smoking pot), the atrocities penned down during Billie’s alcohol binging period were some of the most embarrassing lyrics written by a pop-punk band. Even the barebones sound can’t save “Fell for You” from feeling incredibly saccharine. Meanwhile, the fact that these songs are actually demos
is hard to understand when it comes to the original versions of “99 Revolutions” and “A Little Boy Named Train”, which both sound nearly identical to the final edition that ended up on ¡Tre!
The only new material to be found on Demolicious
are the acoustic version of “Stay the Night” and the previous unreleased track “State of Shock”. Both are a complete waste of track space, and it’s not that difficult to understand why they didn’t make it onto the threesome. The former lacks the energy and emotion that is needed to make a good acoustic ballad – Billie’s vocal performance on the original (and the demo) is what made the track stand out amongst all the mediocre filth, and all of it seemingly gets sucked away. “State of Shock”, meanwhile, sounds like a rehash of the angrier songs on ¡Uno!
with similar chord progression (think “Loss of Control” or “Angel Blue”), yet it’s repetitive and one of the blandest things the band has ever done. For all the exciting, new takes on tracks that were pretty much given the axe by a large amount of people, there’s a dud or two that makes you wonder if the band could have given us the demo to a better
Even if the last few years haven’t boded to well for Green Day, Demolicious
is a welcome surprise that is more or less what these three albums should have been. For those who utterly despised everything about the trilogy, this compilation of demos could be a new interpretation that could quite possibly change your mind about them. It’s shorter, removes all the overproduction, adds some needed doses of energy and contains some of the better tracks to come out of Un, Deux and Trois
– there’s no “Nightlife” or “Drama Queen” demo to be seen here. Instead of sifting through a catalog of thirty-seven tracks, Demolicious
is the trilogy in one album, wrapped up in a nice pretty pink bow on top. It might not be a game-changer or the record that has fans proudly crying “Green Day is back!”, but it’s a nice little treat that shows just how good the maligned trilogy could have been.