It's clear from album opener "Armatage Shanks" alone that Green Day's songwriting took a turn for the slightly darker on Insomniac -- Billie Joe's lyrics have always had a dark side, but here his introvertedness and pessimism is matched by the tone of the music more than it was on Dookie -- and he managed to do this while only strengthening his knack for melodicism. The verse and the chorus on this song both come with a hook that rivals Green Day's bigger hits. That continues on the next two songs, "Brat" and "Stuck With Me," which make for the most relentless one-two-three punch of any Green Day album, and Insomniac has a handful of other should've-been hits like "Stuart and the Ave," "86," and "No Pride." Those songs hit the same pleasure points as "When I Come Around" and "Longview," and they're actually even tighter and punchier. It's hard to say for sure, but I bet if "Brat" and "Stuart and the Ave" were the ones all over MTV and the radio in the '90s, they'd be karaoke regulars today too. (The album's poppiest song and second biggest hit after "Brain Stew" was "Walking Contradiction," though admittedly I think that's one of Insomniac's weaker songs.) There's also an argument to be made that Green Day had developed an even more unique sound on these songs. Dookie earned Green Day their fair share of comparisons to the Buzzcocks, but by Insomniac it was undeniable that this was a band with an original sound of their own.
As we've argued before, Insomniac is Green Day's best album, and since it turned 25 this past weekend, the band have been celebrating with a lot of cool "new" stuff from the era. That includes a 20-minute tour documentary that includes never-before-seen footage from the band's 1995/1996 Europe tours, including a Prague show that was shot on 16mm film, as well as a newly-officially-released video of Green Day playing "Brain Stew" on MTV's Hanging Out in 1996. Watch both of those below.