By taking a different approach here than on their punk/grunge debut Dookie, Green Day produces what should be, indisputably, their greatest accomplishment to date. As middle-of-the-road as Insomniac appears to punk enthusiasts who turned on Green Day for taking the road less traveled, it's amazing to hear how unblemished it really is. This album holds their best song to date, "Brain Stew", along with numerous tracks that are hidden gems that only a few people justly know about (i.e. "Panic Song", "Westbound Sign", "Stuart And The Ave.", "Armatage Shanks", etc). Their lyrics here are either paradoxical, naïve, smart, extremely negative, secluded, or cynical; each aspect seems to attach itself to its specific song. When they're not working together, of course. Do not expect this CD to sound like Dookie. Instead, brace yourself for 14 unbelievably great songs. Here's an overview:
1. Armatage Shanks - 5/5 - a perfect start. Starts with: `stranded... lost inside myself', followed later by `I must insist on being a pessimist'. Aside from the excellent lyrics, which are right to the point, the drum work is some of the best Green Day's ever done.
2. Brat - 5/5 - one minute, 42 seconds of an altered procrastination (waiting for your parents to die so you can inherit their money) provides for one of my personal favorite songs. How this song went so overlooked is beyond me. A definite highlight.
3. Stuck With Me - 3.5/5 - one of the few overrated songs on Insomniac. It's a decent song--don't get me wrong--it just doesn't outdo most of the other songs that didn't quite make it to International Superhits!; the songs I wish had made it there.
4. Geek Stink Breath - 5/5 - another one of my favorites. The line `wish in one hand / shxt in the other / and see which one gets filled first' is one of the album's finest excerpts. It's pretty straightforward as far as its words. It's the music that stands out.
5. No Pride - 4.5/5 - the personal favorites just keep on coming... here's yet another. My 4.5-out-of-five rank is rather misleading, I just believe it's harder to love this song when some of the others outperform it. Flawless exhibition of how to sing a chorus beautifully hard.
6. Bab's Uvula Who? - 3.5/5 - a very fast-paced song that might lose a couple of people. Unless you actually read the lyrics you'll most likely miss everything aside from `...all wound up'. It's an intriguing track that will grow on you over time.
7. 86 - 5/5 - if the title doesn't inform you what "86" is all about, you'll miss the point completely. The lyrics say it all. Another greatly overlooked tune that is right up there with the best of this band.
8. Panic Song - 5/5 - here is, quite possibly, the best song on the album; it's my favorite at least. The first half of the song is instrumental, which might lead some of you to believe it stays that way. It does not. "Panic Song" features the best quotable line I've ever heard in a song: `the world is a sick machine / breeding a mass of shxt / with such a desolate conclusion / fill the void with... I don't care'. Awesome; just awesome.
9. Stuart And The Ave. - 5/5 - short, sweet, and somewhat pop-ish (in a punk sort of way). It's becoming tiresome for me to tell you how great the lyrics are and how underrated these darn songs are. Get the idea?
10. Brain Stew - 5/5 - somehow this one separates itself from the rest of the songs. The meticulous, drumless onset proves to be just one of the many brilliancies it possesses. It's my 13th favorite song of all-time, and of any band. Classically rocking, classically great.
11. Jaded - 3.5/5 - an unavoidable, hard to understand outro to "Brain Stew", basically. It made it to International Superhits!, but probably for the wrong reasons.
12. Westbound Sign - 5/5 - this one is also a bit hard to understand, but it seems more purposeful and worthy of mention than the previous track. It's also a breakup/love song; something that's a rare find on Insomniac. Should've made it to Superhits!, but that's already become old hat here.
13. Tight Wide Hill - 3/5 - my least favorite song on the album. Still good, but it just doesn't compare to "Armatage Shanks", "Brat", "Stuck With Me", "Geek Stink Breath", "No Pride", "Bab's Uvula Who?", "86", "Panic Song", "Stuart And The Ave.", "Brain Stew", "Jaded", or "Westbound Sign".
14. Walking Contradiction - 5/5 - apart from the ambiguously funny lyrics and the classic punk rock sound that this finale provides, the video is also great. It's probably Green Day's best video to date. You've probably heard the song already anyways. Splendid!
I cannot emphasize enough how amazing Insomniac is. And my five-out-of-five rank on nine of the 14 tracks should single-handedly make you want to buy this album, if you haven`t already. If you've heard either "Brain Stew" or "Walking Contradiction", rest assured they are not the only great songs. In fact, a number of the other songs are actually better (a tactic unlike Dookie and Warning's). Billie Joe's lyrical abilities don't outweigh the music, and the music doesn't overshadow the words. Insomniac is a perfect example of how to balance the two. I'm not going to keep twisting your arm on this one. If you aren't convinced yet you're not a Green Day fan, and, in all probability, you'll never be. This is one of the best rock CDs to come out of the `90s. And it is undoubtedly the best Green Day record you will ever hear.