At first glance, this album doesn’t seem to differ from Green Day’s 1991 debut, but when you really pay attention to this record you see that this presents a more mature Green Day. There are still songs about getting the girl, but there are less references to hanging out and smoking pot and more about getting older and looking at your future (or lack there of). This album is also tighter than their first effort which makes it slightly better than the first.
Kerplunk opens with the classic “2,000 Light Years Away.” This is a great opener because it’s so catchy and full of energy. After the first verse you’ll be singing along with Billie. The music here is also great. Not only is it vibrant, there’s a great bass groove that can be heard during the mini guitar solo. This song sounds and feels like it should’ve been on their first album, but it makes itself a home here.
Another great song and a Green Day fan favorite is “Christie Road.” This song has a slow, drudging guitar pulling the song along as Billie calmly sings about loneliness and wanting to go to that place that he calls home. When you pay attention to the lyrics you realize it’s actually a pretty sad song. It deals with losing friends and being left behind. It actually reminds me of the last year of high school. How everyone is making their plans to go away or to go to college and there’s always that one person who’s being left behind. This song describes that time in your life perfectly. Also, the solo during the bridge reminds me a bit of the riff from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I don’t know if that song inspired the band in any way. Regardless, it’s a fantastic song.
This album actually has a somber, depressing theme to it. It’s really hard to catch if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics because most of the music is upbeat and really fast. Also, the songs are so catchy. You’ll be singing along without realizing what the song is actually about. Most of the songs deal with themes of loneliness, loss, questioning the future and addressing your own mortality. These topics are found in most of the songs, but it’s most prominent on the track “No One Knows.”
This is the slowest track on the album and also the most depressing. It starts out with a slow, somber bass riff in the beginning before the other instruments come in and it really sets the tone for the whole song. Even the singing sounds really sad. The song deals with getting older and realizing you’re not immortal. This song really shows how the band has grown as songwriters. It also shows how they can still make great songs without playing fast and loud.
The songwriting is what makes this album so different from their first one. As mentioned before, the songs mostly deal with darker, more serious subjects, such as growing older, life, and death. The album is not all gloom and doom though. Green Day shows off their humor with the Tre Cool fronted track “Dominated Love Slave.” But besides this, the songs show a more mature Green Day and it hints at how their writing would be in the future.
Another thing about this album is it’s tighter than the first one. The songs are more focused and vary in subject matter. There are also less tracks found here (minus the four bonus tracks from their EP). Because there aren’t as many songs on the album each track gets time to get noticed. Also, Billie has his singing under control. He plays around with his vocals a little bit here, but it seems like he found his voice.
That being said, there are still some experimental elements here. Some of the songs, like “Private Ale” have odd spoken word or sample noises in the middle of songs and it just doesn’t work. It takes away from the song and makes the listener go what was that? If anything it just disrupts the flow of the song. There are some artists who really know how to work with sample noises (e.g. Rob Zombie), but Green Day is not one of those bands. Thankfully, they haven’t attempted to do it again.
Overall, this album gets 8.5/10. The album is more focused, tighter, and deals with darker subjects. The album shows that the band still knows how to write catchy songs. It also shows how they have matured as songwriters. This is the album that told the world to take Green Day seriously even if they are silly at times. You really have to pay attention to the lyrics to fully appreciate this album. It wasn’t until I read the lyrics that I understood why this is a great album. It’s a must for any Green Day fan.
What’s your favorite track on the album? Do you think it’s better than their first? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.