Dookie, by Green Day
Suggested by Stuart Legg
Early in in our relationship, Sarah and I watched Sid and Nancy.
In general, we have wildly differing tastes when it comes to movies. However, in this case, we both hated this punk biopic of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen with a passion. Not the film, mind… that was unobtrusive. No, we hated the story. We hated the characters. We hated the punk don’t-give-a-sh*t ethos.
“What are you doing?!” we’d scream together, as Sid or Nancy flicked their fag ash on the carpet. “Go fetch an ashtray, for heaven’s sake! And would it kill you to use a coaster?”
We concluded that in our relative youth, we’d have made appalling punks. Especially me, as it’s hard to fashion a Mohican around a widening bald spot. And now we’re some eighteen years older, and none the wiser, both hurling away from punk and towards the Horlicks with a geriatric turn of speed.
Both of us, however, have a soft spot for Green Day.
Not enough to have listened to any of their albums, mind. But enough for us to have bopped along to the various singles they’ve released down the years. Good Riddance, American Idiot, Wake Me Up When September Ends, When I Come Around, and of course the fantastic Basket Case, which gets the nod for Dookie’s finest three minutes.
There are a few reasons for our enjoyment. The first is the songwriting skill. Each classic Green Day single is a polished gem, well worked and crafted. The second involves the vocal melodies, which are always excellent, and delivered expertly. The third is the subject matter, with songs about lost love and anxiety and more. And finally, the fourth reason is that, well, they’re just not really punk, in any meaningful sense. The first three reasons outlined here should attest to that.
Bizarrely, this is where I feel Dookie falls short for me. For a punk record, albeit in a more traditional rock framework, it lacks any bite, and there’s even precious little bark. It’s much more a pop sound than I anticipated, and if you dilute the snarling sneer of punk’s USP, then you’re judging things on a new set of metrics. Those metrics lead you to see that while the songs on Dookie are catchy and fun, from the bouncing Having A Blast to the Weezer-esque summery Pulling Teeth, there’s nothing here that hits the heights of Basket Case.
On release, Dookie was widely acclaimed, although Green Day lost some diehard fans who accused them of betraying their roots. Subsequent albums did retain a more punk vibe, and I think I’d be more inclined to listen to them. I hear American Idiot has a sharper edge.
Dookie gets an unremarkable 6/10 from me. While it’s fun, it’s not punk. While it’s melodic, it’s not pop. And while it’s good, it’s not great.