It’s fairly unlikely that anyone reading this will not have an opinion on Green Day. Some will have lost their way in the ‘Warning’ era shift commercialism, some around the “second coming” they had with ‘American Idiot’ and some may not have been able to digest ’21st Century Breakdown’, the U2 duets, the ‘American Idiot’ musical farce or the American Idol cameos from Bille Joe Armstrong.
Regardless, there’s a fond place in most punk fans’ hearts for the band’s “early stuff”, and there’s little doubt that they’re one of the music successful rock band of any kind in the last two decades. They can sell out stadiums alone and cause hysteria with announcements for a “secret slot” at Reading Festival.
The next chapter in the ongoing Green Day saga is ‘¡Uno!’, the first of a three album trilogy that will be followed by ‘¡Dos!’ and ‘¡Tré!’ in the next six or so months. Whatever your standpoint, early 2013 looks set to be dominated by the band, and though the reaction to ‘¡Uno!’ previews has been mixed at best, the songs do sit much better when played as a whole.
Though the three album set is still a concept approach to making records, the somewhat forced ways of ‘American Idiot’ and ’21st Century Breakdown’ are absent on ‘¡Uno!’, and though it lacks the hooks of the former it’s certainly an improvement on the latter.
With ’¡Uno!’ as an indicator, the three album set is probably going to make up to one great album from three mixed bags – which kind of counters the claim that they’ve staggered the release of album two and three because all three have enough material alone to br great individually.
‘Nuclear Family’ kicks things off, and though it could do with being a tad faster – it’s not a bad effort. The cadence and melody at the end of the chorus is reminisce of The Clash’s ‘Janie Jones’, and it sets a precedent for the rest of the record’s influences.
‘Stay The Night’ follows, and plods along a bit through a track that doesn’t quite fit the band’s “stadium punk” that they’ve been putting together in the last few records. It doesn’t have the pace or catchiness of their earlier material, and could do with having a bit more balls.
‘Carpe Diem’ is a bit of a lacklustre ‘Warning’ / ‘American Idiot’ offcut that doesn’t particularly go anywhere, but it’s rescued somewhat by one of the album’s standout efforts ‘Let Yourself Go’. The track is a bit more “classic” Green Day than the rest of the album, and the energy in it compared to the weaker tracks is the first indicator that the band may have overstretched themselves with a trilogy of albums.
‘Kill The DJ’ is most definitely the strangest thing the band have managed in a while, and when it doesn’t sound like a joke track it sounds like some sort of Franz Ferdinand / Red Hot Chili Peppers / ‘Rock The Kasbah’ frankenstein. The video also happens to be one of the most ill advised things the band have managed, and it’s one of the most annoyingly stick-in-your-head songs they’ve ever done – which actually makes it twice as infuriating.
‘Fell For You’ wouldn’t feel too out of place on ‘Warning’ era Green Day, but it’s a little close to being an early / unfinished version of the infinitely catchier ‘Church On Sunday.’ ‘Loss Of Control’ is another with the “classic” Green Day vibe but a little wound back, and if it was delivered with a bit more bile and less lazy guitar solos, it’d be a highlight of the record.
‘Troublemaker’ is the band in full on fun punk mode, and though it’s not exactly the best thing they’ve ever done, it’s far more listenable than both the majority of ’21st Century Breakdown’ and really the rest of this record, for its verse rhythm or even just the ridiculous backing vocals.
‘Angel Blue’ doesn’t waste much time dropping a Clash-esque solo in, but it’s an upbeat and catchy effort that would definitely be in the album’s top 3 tracks without much trouble. It has just one less break in the vocal for noodles.
The closing trio from the album starts with ‘Sweet 16′, and though it’s certainly one of the tracks featuring the album’s almost “toned down” approach, it’s actually a very well executed and gentle song that carries a great chorus. It’s a bit of a sappy love song, but it’s a fairly natural one that fits in well with follow up ‘Rusty James’ – another mid-tempo effort that’s essentially an old fashioned pop song with a Green Day spin (in a good way).
Album closer ‘Oh Love’ is definitely one of the strongest on the record. It’s something different from the band, and it didn’t get a great reaction when first aired (it’s admittedly a weird choice for an initial track because of the song’s slow build), but it’s unforced and a solid album closer.
Overall, ’¡Uno!’ isn’t bad. It feels lazy in places and has some absolutely bizarre inclusions, but it arrives without much of the pretention that plagued ’21st Century Breakdown’, and had it followed ‘American Idiot’ (or even ‘Warning’), then it would have gone down a storm. As it is, it’s hard to see how the band can stretch the fairly loose concept out over another two records. From what we’ve heard the other two are altogether different (and more eyebrow raising) beasts.