review: green day’s “dos!”

By Cody Robinson on 12/3/2012

Punk rock trio Green Day’s latest studio release, Dos!, serves as the second installment in a 3 album series.  All three albums were recorded between February and June 2012 in one long session at Jingletown Studios in Oakland, California – five short months which spawned a stunning abundance of new material: 37 songs in all.

green-day-dosArtist: Green Day (previous: 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown)

Release Date: November 9, 2012

Details: The punk rock group’s tenth studio album, Dos! was recorded in Oakland, California

Dingo Dictum: D+                                                                                                                         .

The rapid-fire release of this trilogy, which kicked off in September (with Uno!) and is set to conclude December 7th (with Tre!), means that the band will have churned out three LP releases in a mere 4 months. Nobody makes new music this fast. But while Green Day is certainly setting a new standard for the word “prolific,” it is also true that they have had a lot of catching up to do: in the 8 years since 2004’s worldwide smash American Idiot (so successful it’s been turned into a Broadway musical) the band had released only one new record, 21st Century Breakdown, back in 2009. It’s good to see all this new music, finally, but an increase in quantity of output is usually accompanied by a decrease in quality of output (unless you’re Mozart), and I’m afraid these boys are over the hill.

I must admit I was excited at the prospect of the release of 3 Green Day albums all in the same year (all in the same trimester, even!). I felt I could count on there being at least a few solid, hit songs in the bunch. But nothing I’ve heard on either Uno! or Dos! even approaches the lyrical depth, songwriting genius, or sheer singability of American Idiot – which, to me, was their last great record. If anything, they’ve tried too hard and have ended up repeating themselves rather than progressing in a new direction.

In fact, much of Dos! sounds like the band have just taken ideas from American Idiot and re-hashed them into a less catchy, blasé-sounding epilogue. In a particularly brazen example, the beginning of “Lazy Bones” uses the exact same four chords as the American Idiot track “Novocaine” (they’re even in the same key). It’s basically the same song, but in double time and with an inferior melody. To be fair it’s still a decent song, but entirely original? Not so much. And when the opening lines on “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” sounded familiar to me, I realized it was because the notes Billie Joe Armstrong was singing were nearly carbon copied from “Extraordinary Girl” (another American Idiot hit).

A little redundancy is forgivable – after all every band has a style of writing and so will tend toward similar note changes, musical phrasing, etc. But the self-plagiarism here is blaringly obvious, and it doesn’t help that the worst offenses are on two of the maybe four listenable tracks on the album.

Perhaps the only song with some sincerity is the last one, entitled “Amy.” It was added on as the 13th track (Uno! and Tre! both have 12) as a tribute to British soul singer Amy Winehouse, who recently passed away. Other than this one exception, the entirety of Green Day’s “new material” comes off sounding manufactured and repetitive.

With Dos! (and Uno!, for that matter), I’m afraid the band focused more on what surely struck them as a clever marketing scheme – the album trilogy concept – than on the actual music. Here’s hoping Tre! offers less banality and a little more originality.  Δ

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