Album review: Green Day, Insomniac (1995)

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 9, 1995

By Steve Newton

On the follow-up to Green Day’s multiplatinum Dookie CD, lead vocalist-guitarist-lyricist Billie Joe tries just a little too hard to be a punk-rock Everyman. Out of Insomniac’s 14 tracks, no fewer than nine include lines that start with I’m. “I’m a snot-nosed slob without a job,” “I’m just a mutt,” “I’m a walking contradiction,” “I’m a smart-ass but I’m playing dumb”—the I’ms go on forever.

Too bad there isn’t a line that goes, “I’m a snot-nosed smart-ass in the world’s most overrated band.”

Actually, Green Day is quite effective at churning out catchy, punk-edged power pop—but then, so are the Goo Goo Dolls, Bad Religion, All, and face to face, and they accomplish it without all the puerile self-infatuation.

So what makes Green Day so special, so unfathomably successful?

I guess they’re good at tapping into that teen-angst thing; maybe it helps that kids think they’re cute or something. All I know is, the tunes they sell acres of CDs with today are almost identical to what bands like Vancouver’s Modernettes and Seattle’s Fastbacks were banging out in beer-induced stupors 13 years ago.

Funny how that works, eh?

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