Green Day always were a pop/punk band. Now, these Warner cash
cows are so slickly produced that it's just "pop" -- no "punk"
really! At least, if you accept that Fugazi are the Punk Rock
Godz of the USA (with their liberal political stance, veganism,
straight-edge-ness, and anti-corporate structure stances), then
Green Day are just another pop band.
The thing is, listening to Warning: i get a sneaky
feeling that they are more Clash-like than all of their peers.
That is, The Clash (IMHO, one of, if not the, greatest
bands ever) transformed themselves from an angry dope-smoking
bunch of street punks into a popular musical force recognized
by, and thus influencing, millions. It's a different path, and
one that politicos constantly argue about: change is best effected
from the inside, but the simple act of going inside can
cause you to compromise.....
So Green Day are a punk band. One that got a major label contract,
have sold millions of records, and yet, they bring queer-core
bands on tour with them to raise awareness of homosexual rights
issues. They take a firm, anti-drug war stance (well, actually
i guess their stance is more pro-pot use, but the net result
is the same). So i dunno. I can't judge them. Call them sellouts
if you will, but millions of people have heard Green Day, while
there are probably a few people reading this and thinking "Who
is this 'Fugazi" he is talking about?" So there you go.
Okay, enough political ranting for now -- let's talk about
For this, their 6th CD, Green Day have decided to experiment
with some different instrumentation: acoustic guitars, harmonica,
mandolin, accordian, farfisa (i don't even know what that looks
like!). I give them kudos for trying something new, for attempting
to break out of their simple "three chords and shouting" idiom.
Heck, it's worth a shot!
And like i said, this album is so slickly produced that, well,
it works for the most part. Billy Joe's acoustic strumming sounds
good with Mike Dirnt's bass riffs and Tre Cool's drumming. Or
accordian, or whatever. The fact is, these songs are as bouncey
and enjoyable as anything that Green Day have done before.
The bulk of the tunes on the album are very radio-friendly.
Castaway even features that "hand-clap" sound that was
so prevalent in the 1980's. Oh yeah!
I must admit that some of the songs sound, well, less than
entirely original. For example, the opening guitar riffs on
Church On Sunday sound ripped straight from London
Calling! And there is a harmonica bit on Hold On
that sounds like Love Me Do by The Beatles. Not that
any of this is bad. I just always feel cheated when i can so
clearly recognize what influenced an artist at a particular
point. Anyway, it all works. The harmonica sounds a little cheesey,
but that's okay i guess.
But, to me, the most interesting tune is Misery. This
song features the farfisa Mike Dirnt appropriated. I don't know
what a farfisa is, but it sounds kind of like a circus organ.
Anyway, the farfisa is used to create some eerie sounding instrumentation
which is layered behind some dark lyrics about drug abuse.
I find this song content odd because of Green Day's stance as
marijuana advocates. Perhaps they are disillusioned about their
drug? Or, perhaps .... well it would be possible to interpret
the song as indicating that only pot can make this terible life
worth living. But that's a little too bleak, even for me! I
dunno what they were thinking. However, i am drawn to this tune
each time i listen to the disc. There is something there, something
different that shines through. It also sort of puts the lie
to the rest of the album, which is all shiney and happy. I dunno,
i can't figure this one out.
But most people will probably skip that one!
Okay, to sum up: new Green Day = very listenable. Light and
happy on the surface with one song that descends to the depths
of despair. Buy. Listen. Bounce.