Insomniac was by no means an unsuccessful record, but the sales figures were paltry compared to the multi-platinum selling Dookie. The former record was a deformed version of the latter, twisted under the pressures of overnight success. Despite its modest sales, it still spawned four singles which became fan favourites, in particular the bipolar Brain Stew/Jaded double release. Interestingly enough, it was the b-side to this track (Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)) that would become one of the bands most iconic songs. But with the relative commercial failure came a release of pressure and the guys took a bit more time on the follow-up record.
Nimrod was a very different album to the previous two, but then this was a very different band. By 1997 all three band members had children and were in various states of becoming settled down. They were no longer the unrestrained youth of old, but instead were growing up, but not too much. This state of flux is reflected in the music, with the band looking to throw off the constraints and try their hand at something new, which they did. A lot.
Mixed in with the more traditional Green Day songs were experiments with hardcore (Platypus (I Hate You), Take Back), power pop (Redundant), instrumental surf rock (Last Ride In), ska-punk (King for a Day), and even an acoustic ballad (Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)). But even with all these departures from the “traditional” sound there was something that had clearly returned, a sense of fun. True, there was still a great deal of anger and insolence on the record, but these seemed to be mixed in with good spirits. Yet for all the variations with style, the fundamental structure remained the same, though they became a bit more intricate with the addition of more second guitar parts.
Lyrically and thematically, there seemed to be a sense of development and maturing. Redundant tackles a stagnant relationship and the repetitious behaviour that comes with that. Scattered is a melancholic take on an old school Green Day song, as he laments the loss of happy days and tries to make amends. Whilst Worry Rock accepts the need for compromise in a relationship. The Grouch is like a working-class take on The Brat, where the protagonist isn’t waiting to be set free by the death of his parents, but rather is disappointed to find out he has become a failure like his father, much to his chagrin. Uptight is thematically similar to Dookie’s Having a Blast, only instead of a bomb he is armed with a gun, with the target being not a spurned lover, but himself. Haushinka is an older song, written for a girl Billie Joe knew who was leaving. In contrast, Platypus (I Hate You) was an older song written about a journalist who said he would always love Green Day, but turned his back as soon as they signed to a major label.
The artwork is much calmer than previously. It is very angular with several obscured faces (including those of the band) adorning boxes on the front and back, which could be said to symbolise the many faces they tried out on this record and the more laid back approach to its creation.
With 18 songs and a runtime of 49 minutes, it was their longest full-length since 1,039 Smooth Out Slappy Hours (which itself was a compilation of EPs). Unlike their previous efforts, this did not really stick together thematically or musically. Some of the band’s hardest and most heart-felt songs are on this record and it shows a clear intent to once again expand their sound and style. However, it does feel like just a collection of songs. This is the albums greatest weakness and why it is not quite as good as the previous two records. Yet all the songs here are great and it spawned two of the most popular songs by the band (Good Riddance, Hitchin’ A Ride) and 15 years later King for a Day is still one of the band’s most played live tracks.
This album has something for every occasion and that is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.