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Green Day's iDOS!: An Album Review

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As is usual with trilogies, the second installment of Green Day's much-anticipated album trilogy titled iDOS!, set to release at midnight on Tuesday, November 13th, is a more intense, pure garage rock blast of what Billie Joe Armstrong, frontman for Green Day, describes as being at the party, escalating the calmer, more somber music from the first installment iUNO! into the free-fall of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll promised with the second. I must admit, when I heard the first track "See You Tonight," I was a bit confused and let down, as it's nothing like what we've heard from Green Day up to this point, until the second track "Fuck Time" began and it all made sense.

"See You Tonight" is a short mellow half-song introduction in the style of folk country rock, just a guitar and a melody with simple lyrics that sound like the song could have been a text message to a lover on his way out the door in anticipation of the party about to come. Normally the type of song used to close an album as the last track, Green Day turns normal on its head and makes it the first, letting us know not only that these albums are different, but the story is only beginning. "Fuck Time," a huge favorite among the fans from Green Day's side project band Foxboro Hot Tubs has finally and officially made it onto Green Day's catalogue. As the title indicates, it's dirty and to the point as the protagonist of the story enters the party announcing he's arrived by screaming "Oh baby baby/It's fuck time!" Rock the way rock is supposed to be, it's laden with cool guitar riffs, a kicking drum beat and an attitude that sets the tone of the entire album.

"Stop When The Red Lights Flash," the third track on the album, opens with fast building drums and guitar as he expresses tunnel vision for the girl he let get away once and is determined to have now as he tells her over and over "I'll make you surrender." On the surface it can be interpreted as a song about an assassin for hire running from the law, but it goes much deeper as a metaphor to kill the "uncomfortable silence" and ignore the little tendrils of subconscious objection trying to stop him from following through with his intentions.

Given Billie Joe Armstrong's current trip to rehab amid his perpetual struggle with substance abuse, this album trilogy is decidedly the most relevant personal journey Green Day has produced to date, and no song reflects it more succinctly than the fourth track on iDOS!, "Lazy Bones." Though it has a catchy melody and fun beat, it is the lyrics that tell the real story. With a brutal honesty, he succumbs to the toll his addiction is taking on him. It is the moment of his breakdown, displaying a vulnerability rarely heard in a Green Day song with lyrics like "I can't stand from falling down/I'm too sick to throw up," "I don't want your sympathy/I don't want your honesty/I just want to get some peace of mind" and "I'm too tired to be bored/I'm too bored to be tired/I'm too mental to go crazy/I'm too drunk to be pure," until he finally just flat-out tells everyone around him "I'm so tired/I can't take it anymore." In relation to the album itself, it is the turning point in the story, the moment the party moves from a consequence-free good time into the self-destructive free-fall.

This is emphasized even more with "Wild One," the fifth track on the album, about the woman who inspired the fall of the protagonist in the story, where they're both strung out on drugs and alcohol, "living on peanuts" and wasting their lives, leading into the sixth track "Makeout Party," a down and dirty rock song about middle-school kissing games taken to adults levels with extreme guitar riffs, some of Billie Joe Armstrong's best vocals, and an energetic drum and bass combo.

"Stray Heart," Official video by Green Day from the iDOS! album

From the moment it was introduced last year at Green Day's 'secret' shows, no song on iDOS! was more revered or anticipated than the studio version of the seventh track "Stray Heart." To put it mildly, the fans fell in love with it. With simple lyrics and a catchy tune that compels the listener to sing along, it's a bittersweet plea to the woman he loves and needs, but "just can't have," because he's fallen from grace, cheated on her and screwed up the relationship.

And now we're introduced to the other women at the party, temptations from the past who contributed to the main character's fall in the present, in the form of tracks eight, nine and ten, titled "Ashley," "Baby Eyes" and "Lady Cobra" respectively. "Ashley" is pure old-school punk rock reminiscent of The Clash and the Ramones about an old girlfriend he once loved to the point of desperation, but who has gotten "so out of reach" from her own downfall with addiction. With lyrics like "you're looking like hell" and "I taste the cigarettes/And liquor on your breath/We used to call it speed/But now it's crystal meth," she represents another element of his addiction that's "scaring him to death," but he can't seem to get away from completely, indicating the moment he realizes the path he's taken is beginning to unravel.

An even deeper confession from Billie Joe Armstrong about his struggle with addiction and the self-indulgent, self-destructive behavior hurting those around him, "Baby Eyes" is both an ode to the woman the protagonist is obsessing over and a metaphor of Billie Joe Armstrong's own personal demons. To the woman the character loves, or at least thinks he loves in his inebriated, confused state, he describes as way too young for him, he tells her "I'm out of control/Oh baby when I see your pretty face." To the world at large, it's the death of Billie Joe Armstrong's own future, "Somebody shot the baby seer" and "Baby, baby eyes was born to kill," a self-deprecating warning he's beyond redemption and will pull everybody down with him.

Inspired by one of the two female lead singers of the band Mystic Knights of the Cobra (MKotC), "Lady Cobra" is another fast garage rock song with heavy guitar riffs and hardcore drums, about a woman the protagonist once had an intimate relationship with, but now only wants as a friend, who represents yet another element of addictive influences, stating "She just wants to get me high." On another level, and again, in light of Billie Joe Armstrong's personal struggle, he seems to rationalize the addiction itself, believing he can just play with it a little, just be a friend to it, but no worries, he "Don't want no suicide." In the lyrics "Like a dirty old man with the baby seer," it should be noted, "baby seer" is most likely a subtle reference to Baby Cobra, the other lead singer of MKotC.

There are only two words I can use to describe the eleventh track "Nightlife": fucking cool. Funky with a bass solo and a female rap performed by Lady Cobra of the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, "Nightlife" is like the bad angel sitting on his shoulder kicking the shit out of any good angel that tries to stop him. It is the party itself, the moment he moves from the sentimental journey of past temptation and straight into the inevitability of sex, drugs and alcohol, indicating the beginning of the end before we head into the final album of the trilogy iTRE! and what Billie Joe Armstrong describes in previous interviews as "cleaning up the mess."

"Wow! That's Loud," the eleventh track on iDOS!, is all about guitar solos and drums. A happy, upbeat, psychedelic trip through the drugs and alcohol swimming through his veins, it is his description of the experience in the form of a dirty, obnoxious, technicolor dress he can't turn away from. This leads us into the final track "Amy," the most beautiful, powerful and disturbing song in the trilogy so far. A tribute to Amy Winehouse, the musician who died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, one can't help but wonder if Billie Joe Armstrong felt a personal connection to this woman whose name, he admits, he barely even knew, as he struggles with his own addiction. He asks her "Do you want to be a friend of mine" and "Can I have this last dance/By chance if we should meet?" as if he'd already seen himself moving towards the same inevitable conclusion.

Lyrics video of "Amy" by Green Day, uploaded to YouTube by TheParanoidPunk