Before today’s diluted pop-punk acts had their training wheels, there were three West Cost rebels who sold out to the record conglomerates and inspired us all to break out from the melancholy of suburbia and pump our fists to tantalizing slogans accompanied by three-chord guitar strums and oh so naughty words. Green Day has been around now for a good decade – and millions of records afterwards – have proven themselves to be the kings of pop-punk. But their newest debut Shenanigans absolutely fails to perform. It has the distinctive Green Day sound and feel, but the songs are too forgettable to match any of the punk legend’s past offerings. The album is a splattering of every flavor of rock Green Day has tried, all hastily packaged and mismatched. Aside from a few notable numbers, such as the instrumental “Espionage,” off of their stint in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” most of the tracks are lackluster and breaths of moldy basement storage. Only die-hard Green Day fans will benefit from Shenanigans, adding to their collection this keepsake.
The album bursts out fast and furious with “Suffocate,” an instant flashback to classic Green Day glory. Unlike their 2000 best-hits compilation International Superhits however, this B-side album looses its shine in less than three tracks. Shenanigans is truly a melting pot for all those songs that failed to make the cut in previous Green Day records, such as “Desensitized,” which has until now been a rarity that only graced the Japanese release of Nimrod (1997).
The album clocks in at barely 30 minutes, which is sufficient for the morning commute, but not long enough for the hour-long macroeconomics lecture. Green Day was smart to not have included in this comp any mellow acoustic snoozers, unrehearsed radio spots, or incomprehensible “Live!” concert dubs. There are some solid back-in-time angst-ridden pieces such as “Scumbag,” and a couple worthy loser-anthems in “Sick of Me,” and “Rotting.” The only brand-new song is “Ha Ha You’re Dead,” which rocks out in a Dennis the Menace fervor.
Two covers discreetly positioned in Shenanigans make Green Day appear as British wannabes – fake accents included. Their attempt at The Ramones’ “Outsider” proves that straying away from three-chord skate-punk to two-chord Atlantic-punk is silly, and the other cover, a quaint rendition of The Kinks’ 1965 classic “Tired of Waiting For You” is justifiably executed, but also uninventive, regurgitating all that dopy, flower-power aura of song’s era.
One educational value in Shenanigans is its presentation of GD’s musical evolution, from the rabid-speed minute-long Berkeley-punk of “I Want To Be On TV” and “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love,” to the matured, measured processions in “Do Da Da” and “On The Wagon Again.”
Bottom line: Shenanigans is one new Green Day song, two unadulterated British covers, and a barrel of monkeys for previously unreleased B-sides. Green Day struggles to be young again, to have the tenacity to churn out two smash-hits a year again, like it was 1994. But alas we all age, so despite last year’s good times retrospective compilation, and now Shenanigans, the truth is Green Day hasn’t made an original new record since 2000’s Warning. Then again, it took the boys three years after Insomniac (1994) to push out Nimrod (1997), and three years more to get Warning. So figure them in on the three-year cycle and we can only hope that they’ve got some good stuff cooking on the back burner.