Welcome back, faithful readers. I’m happy to present for your reading pleasure part two of my three-part review of Green Day’s ¡Trilogy! (see part 1 here). As you might have guessed, today I’ll be talking about the second album, ¡Dos!
Now in my opinion, ¡Dos! was easily the weakest album of all three. As you’ll see shortly, there were a few good tracks – really good, actually – but mostly the album falls flat. For me it comes down to Billie Joe Armstrong’s own description of the three albums, in which he said the first one is the pre-game, the party before the party, if you will; the second is the party itself; and the third is the cool down after the party. Now while I feel this is an apt description, I don’t think the second album lives up to its promise. Sure, there’s chaos. But is the chaos if a party? I argue that it’s not, but rather, it’s the chaos of middle-aged men trying to party like they’re still fresh-faced punks and not adult men with families and stints in rehab.
Here’s the breakdown, which I think will better serve to illuminate my point.
1. See You Tonight: This track is frankly kind of creepy. The acoustic guitars and fuzzy-but-calm vocals lull you into a false sense of security, but if you really listen to it, it’s just creepy. Armstrong took a page out of Sting’s lyric book for sure here. Compare this one and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” I postulate that Armstrong was listening to that song on a loop when he wrote “See You Tonight.” Somehow though a creepy song about being a stalker leads perfectly into….
2. Fuck Time: I’ve come to the conclusion that Armstrong is into some seriously kinky sex. This isn’t the first track he’s written about it; remember “Blood, Sex, & Booze” off of Warning? And let’s not forget Tré Cool’s now infamous track from Kerplunk!, “Dominated Loveslave.” Anyway, the drums are fantastic on this one, though the guitars run a pretty generic strumming pattern until the chorus, where the song really shines. The guitars mimic the walking bassline, and the whole chorus sounds like a Foxboro Hot Tubs cast-off. Maybe that’s because it is, one of two tracks on the album to be originally performed by the Foxboro Hot Tubs.
3. Stop When the Red Lights Flash: No, this isn’t the second Hot Tubs track, but it could easily pass as it. Let’s face it, there’s a reason the band said that the album is basically the second Foxboro Hot Tubs album. Anyway, there’s nothing too special about this one. It’s got that same fifties/sixties vibe as the Hot Tubs, but otherwise it’s just a standard track. Not the weakest, but certainly not the strongest. A solid, boring middle ground.
4. Lazy Bones: Musically, this one feels a little bland, but it’s a solid track nonetheless. I like to think of it as the more mature version of “Longview,” off of Dookie. Because they are sort of similar in content, just that “Longview” was about being too bored to do anything other than masturbate. Or not having anything else to do. Something like that. I dunno, it’s a 3 minute dick joke, basically. “Lazy Bones” is really about being ground down by life in general and wanting to just sleep. Everyone can understand that, we’ve all been there. And if you look even deeper, you could even argue it’s a song about depression. Clever Billie Joe, addressing real issues in the guise of punk rock.
5. Wild One: This track was severely disappointing to me. It doesn’t life up to the title at all. In fact, it’s really rather tame for a song called “Wild One.” It’s a sort of love song, I think, but it feels a little slow and whiny. Like a country singer who thought he could do rock, but can’t, because he’s a country singer.
6. Makeout Party: Not gonna lie, I had to play this track to write about it, because it’s pretty forgettable. This is another one that musically fits with the Foxboro Hot Tubs album. Lyrically it’s pretty suggestive, and suggestive is a bit tame, but the best I can do, because it’s not really sexually explicit (*cough*FuckTime*cough*). Dirnt’s bass work is excellent, though, with a stellar, lengthy solo, accented nicely by Cool’s drums.
7. Stray Heart: This one is the other Hot Tubs track. Which should be obvious, because it’s kind of a clone of “Mother Mary,” with more emphasis on Dirnt’s bass than Armstrong and White’s guitars. This is easily one of the best tracks on the album, which is why it was the lead single, I imagine. It kind of feels like a sequel to “Mother Mary,” lyrically, though I could be very wrong on that. I haven’t actually read the lyrics for both side-by-side. Also, the music video for this one is pretty great, and very creative. Check it out:
8. Ashley: I like this one. It’s a pretty average punk track, but it’s kinda catchy, and it grabs you right from the start. Musically, it kicks into a bit of a dark tone when it switches from chorus to verse, but I think that’s a good thing. It accents the motifs of the song, and it shows a songwriting range that we don’t often see from Green Day. That is, they’ve done plenty of different kinds of songs, but we don’t often see the range inside a single song — excluding epics like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming,” of course. The only other tracks I can think of that have this sort of layering are “Before the Lobotomy” and “American Eulogy,” both off of 21st Century Breakdown. There’s also a really smooth transition into the next track, so smooth that I always forget it happened at first.
9. Baby Eyes: This is another solid track, and to be honest, I’m not really sure why. I mean, technically speaking it makes sense; the music and lyrics all fit, etc. But I guess it’s just really catchy. The end of the chorus is a bit unexpected, and it’s a nice usage of instrumental rests — which as you may have guessed, Green Day is particularly fond of using just to accent vocals, a practice I find unnecessary. Anyway, “Baby Eyes” is a short track with a slightly creepy edge, lyrically, but overall a very good track. Should probably be listened to back-to-back with “Ashley” for the full effect.
10. Lady Cobra: This one is ok. It’s pretty basic, a bit boring, but it works well enough. The female laugh at the start is super creepy though. The track is kind of a set up for the next one, but I can forgive that because it’s an enjoyable track anyway. It’s still got that Hot Tubs vibe that keeps coming and going from track to track.
11. Nightlife: I get what they were going for, with the whole theme of a party and stuff. But this track is just awful. The guitars sound slightly detuned, the vocals are abhorrently computerized and detuned, the female rap is annoying to say the least, the drums don’t even sound real. The only thing that sounds remotely good is the bassline. Overall the track is juvenile, borderline unlistenable, and just all around godawful. Even the guitar solo just feels wrong. It sounds like it was recorded underwater. And let’s not forget just how vulgar this one is. Even for a Green Day track, it’s pretty nasty. Here’s the breakdown:
Gonna make a move
Before I get bored
If you wanna explore my vocal chord
Baby girl coco dancing the cooch
One hand on my knee one on the hooch
Why don’t you stick around
For one more round
This place is a circus
And I know you’ll be my clown
‘Cause I’m a ringleader
I run the show
And only when I tell ya
Will it be time to go
So yeah, there you have it, the absolute worst track Green Day has ever put on a disc in over twenty years.
12. Wow! That’s Loud: I like this track. A lot. It’s nothing special, really, but the guitars are fantastic, the drums are solid, and it’s just a really fun track. This one is kind of the only one that really has the feel of a party, to be quite honest. The rest of the album is ok, except “Nightlife,” of course, but nothing screams “party” until you get here. Maybe “Fuck Time,” but that’s a different kind of party.
13. Amy: The best track on the album, arguably on all three albums. Armstrong wrote this one for Amy Winehouse after she died. It’s a beautiful ode to a talented youth who we lost too early. I imagine given his own substance abuse struggles her death hit a bit close to Armstrong. I’m not sure if he had any personal connection with her. Regardless, there’s a palpable level of emotion in this one, and it’s just Armstrong and a guitar, which makes it that much more raw and meaningful. I really am convinced that it’s one of his best tracks.
Well, that covers ¡Dos!. I’ll probably end up posting at least one post before the next and final installment of this review, but stay tuned nontheless!!