Following on the heels of their September release, ¡Uno!, Green Day has released the second installment in its trilogy project, appropriately titled ¡Dos!. Whereas ¡Uno! saw the band return to its traditional pop-punk sound after dabbling in the theatrical with two rock operas, ¡Dos! finds the trio pulling out all the stops for its right to party.
If there’s one thing Green Day has down pat, it’s alter egos. Between the three members, there are four main side projects that the band is part of. Pinhead Gunpowder is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s successful side project, in which he plays alongside self-proclaimed “punk anthropologist” Aaron Cometbus, Bill Schneider and longtime Green Day backup guitarist Jason White. Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt also has his side project, playing in New England-based punk band The Frustrators.
Along with these side projects, Green Day is also known for its mysterious alter egos, The Network and Foxboro Hot Tubs. The Network can best be described as a New Wave/pop-punk band and has the trio penning and recording tracks under typically colorful pseudonyms — Fink (Armstrong), Van Gough (Dirnt) and The Snoo (Green Day drummer Tré Cool). While Green Day still denies being The Network, the trio has at least owned up to Foxboro Hot Tubs as being one of its secret identities. The band name was originally used by Green Day to book secret shows, but ultimately the band took on a life of its own. Before long, an acclaimed album was recorded and released, and the grimy Foxboro Hot Tubs established itself in its own right with its raw, prototypical garage rock sound.
The grungy ‘60s sound of Foxboro Hot Tubs is what Green Day was aiming to replicate in ¡Dos!. As Dirnt explained in an interview with Guitar Center Magazine, “¡Dos! is more garage rock — a little dirtier, like you’re in the middle of the party.” And what a party it is.
The album is definitely hedonistic in nature, with lush lyrics and riotous imagery, containing echoes of the Foxboro Hot Tubs. In a June interview with Rolling Stone, Armstrong even stated, “The more we played [the songs], we thought, ‘This is pretty good. Why should we give it to our alter-ego?’”
Though aspects of the grime rock Foxboro Hot Tubs are known for is apparent in some songs, somehow the band doesn’t quite manage to get the exact feel. At times, ¡Dos! ironically comes across as a band trying to knock off the sound of bands like the Foxboro Hot Tubs. Ultimately, this could be due in part to Green Day still wanting to keep the songs entrenched in its traditional pop-punk sound. Though garage rock elements are undoubtedly present, the production of the album is much poppier and sharper than a Foxboro Hot Tubs release, so the record is still conspicuously under the Green Day trademark.
The record starts off with “See You Tonight,” a simple tune clocking in at just over one minute with Armstrong and his acoustic guitar. Once the song ends, the record kicks into “F*ck Time,” a Green Day-ized cover of the Foxboro Hot Tubs song, “It’s F*ck Time.” If there’s one aspect in which the Foxboro Hot Tubs influence stands apparent, it’s Armstrong’s lyrics. “Baby Eyes” is an upbeat, happy ditty with an unexpected twist — hilariously dark and menacing lyrics. With lines like “They say my middle name is danger / The kind you keep away from strangers,” you can’t really lose.
“Stray Heart” begins with what seems like has become a staple in royalty-free music — a beat that sounds like a mix of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life,” The Jam’s “A Town Called Malice” and The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love.” The fact that the beat has been lifted from so many musical predecessors doesn’t detract from the song, mainly because it works — if there ever was a beat made that asks to be ripped off, it’s this one.
“Wow! That’s Loud” definitely lives up to its name, clocking in as the longest track on the album (4:27) with an epic instrumental buildup rounding out the song at the end. Overall, though, the song is one of the album’s plainer songs, along with “Ashley” and “Lazy Bones.”
Album standouts include the deliciously fun “Makeout Party,” a track that could have easily been performed by Foxboro Hot Tubs. “Makeout Party” is pure and proper raucous garage rock, with lines like “I’m just gonna kiss you till your lips are bleeding” begging to be sung along to. Other highlights include the boisterous “Lady Cobra” and album-closer “Amy,” a warm and touching ballad written by Armstrong for the late Amy Winehouse.
The most interesting song on the album is “Nightlife,” which features Lady Cobra from the band Mystic Knights of the Cobra. The song is notable because of Lady Cobra’s rapping, making for an interesting mix of pop-punk, New Wave and rap.
The album definitely doesn’t put on any fronts — ¡Dos! is unabashedly a party album that wants its listeners to forget everything and enter the hedonistic kingdom that Foxboro Hot Tubs is so great at conjuring. Green Day’s venture into various genres thankfully isn’t taken too seriously by the band, and ¡Dos! is ultimately an enjoyable ride down into the carefree land of lush punk.