Green Day reinvent with ¡Uno!, first in trilogy of new albums
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
This is not a rock opera. Green Day gets back to basics with ¡Uno!, released Tuesday, with punchy guitar riffs and in your face lyrics.
Those who were put off by American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown are in for a surprise when they discover that Green Day’s latest endeavor has no political agenda or narrative. ¡Uno! is the first installment of the band’s trilogy, with ¡Dos! and ¡Tre! following in the next four months. This feat is extremely ambitious for any artist today, but these veterans only see it as the next step in their long, illustrious career. Band members Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool may be 40, but they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
¡Uno! is 12 tracks of refreshed, energetic pop-punk that leaves listeners begging for the whole trilogy. Armstrong’s lyrics channel his inner teenager while the guitar and bass lines, and the steady drumming keep the audience hanging onto every second of music.
With hormone-driven songs like “Troublemaker” and “Angel Blue” that seem like they were written by a 20-something Armstrong, it’s hard to tell if this is what people would consider to be the “old school” Green Day that they used to love. That’s for listeners to decide, though.
“Loss of Control” shows the ever snarky and sarcastic side to Armstrong, who bashes his enemies as well as high school reunions (not that he graduated high school), whereas “Carpe Diem” is a rallying cry to “seize the day” that questions, “aren’t we all too young to die?” With a sound that gets stuck in your head, “Carpe Diem” gets across a message that you should live your life to the fullest, in the catchiest way possible.
“Kill the DJ” might just have the most interesting sound on the album. Armstrong’s voice filters over a crazy chord progression and, along with a strong beat from Cool’s drums, makes for a very solid single. “Let Yourself Go,” is fast paced and makes listeners want to dance as Armstrong screams “gotta let it go” during the chorus. It isn’t a song drenched in meaning like some of Green Day’s other songs, but it definitely gets a point across.
¡Uno! wouldn’t be a true Green Day album if it didn’t have a love song and “Sweet 16” is just that. Armstrong has a history of writing ballads; in fact, the band’s first few albums are full of them. But “Sweet 16” is no ballad. It’s light and melodic with a hard edge to it. “Old days are fine but are always left behind,” Armstrong sings in a different, gentler tone, as if he was singing directly to his wife.
The album finishes with “Oh Love,” a song that, if played faster and with less repetitive in the lyrics, could have been a really strong finisher. Instead, it’s five minutes of drawn out vocals and a circular guitar track that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
This first installment of Green Day’s trilogy is a huge breath of fresh air. There are no love ballads, nine-minute epics or political agendas. It’s just music that three long-time friends wrote because that’s what they do best. Every song has the ability to stand on its own, which is exactly what a good album should do. The album may seem simplistic for a band like Green Day, but this trilogy is something completely different. There are high hopes for ¡Dos! and ¡Tre!, and they will undoubtedly deliver like ¡Uno!.