Green Day ‘Uno!’ – Review.

1 Oct

The title of Greenday’s new record, the first in a three part trilogy, is a joke. This album is called ‘Uno’, the next will be called ‘Dos’, and the final part will be ‘Tre’. You know, like Green Day’s drummer. After two albums with titles as loaded as ‘American Idiot’ and ’21st Century Breakdown’ this change in tactic comes as something of a surprise. Will ‘Uno’ see the return of the band that named their full length debut ‘Dookie’, an album famed for its juvinile songs about masterbating, smoking and partying?

Well not really. You see ‘Uno!’ isn’t a big concept album like it’s two predocessors but neither is it a full on return to their roots. It has nothing profound to say nor does it have anything un-profound to say either. It’s neither knowingly smart or knowingly dumb. On ‘Dokie’ they were singing about having nothing to do but now they simply have nothing to say. Dookie sounded as cheep and trashy as the lifestyle that was being described. It sounded live and real. ‘Uno’ sounds like it was recorded in an expensive studio with expensive instruments by a trio of efficiant but uninspired 40 year old millionaires. It is what it is.

Back when they started Green Day could write songs about doing nothing much in particular and it was great because people could relate to it. ‘Longview’ and ‘Basketcase’ sound just as relevant and exciting today as I imagine they did back then because these songs were performed with such energy and authenticity – you can actually hear the frustration, boredom and anger being released. None of that is present on ‘Uno! and if they wanted to do a better job of recreating it they should have recorded this in some dodgy downtown studio, live and off the cuff.

Musically it’s a return to the three chord pop punk that the band can clearly knock out in their sleep. ‘Nuclear Family’ and ‘Stay the Night’ get things off to a lively start and the pace rarely drops. After the ambitious, more experimental and not wholly successful ’21st Century Breakdown’ these songs are enjoyable because of how laid back the band are sounding. In fact, the album is rarely anything less than enjoyable, it’s just never anything more than that. ‘Let Yourself Go’ and ‘Fell For You’ are two of the highlights, not for revolutionary reasons, but simply because they are well constructed, expertly executed pop-punk songs without any political messages or deeper meaning. It’s been a while since you’ve been able to say that about a Green Day song.

The band have always released killer singles, which is why it’s surprising that the only stinkers on here are the songs that have been released as singles. ‘Oh Love’ is mind numbingly dull, particularly that mundane introduction that seems to plod on forever. This is the one song that represents the awful riff rock that they flirted with briefly on tracks like ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘Are we the Waiting’. Second single  ‘Kill the Dj’ is built around a classic four to the floor beat that is being greeted by Green Day fans as some kind of genius innovation. It isn’t. But what really lets this song down is the tiresome chorus where Billie Jo yawns ‘Kill the fucking DJ’ over and over again. This is the first time I recall being embarressed by a Green Day experiment. However these two mishaps aside, the album is full of decent to good songs, most of which have catchy, memorable hooks.

If ‘Uno!’ is a tribute to Green Day’s origins then ‘Dos!’ and ‘Tres!’ are sure to take us further and further into uncharted waters, which is probably no bad thing. Whilst I’m a fan of the classic pop punk style, and the band do a fine objective job of reproducting that sound, they come across as bored on ‘Uno!’ On ‘Dookie’ they turned to music to escape and release that boredom, but on here they sound unintrsted, distracted and well within their comfort zone. I get the impression that they now view music as a job rather than a passion. Which is fine for most groups that have been around for this long; by the standereds of say U2, AC/DC or Garbage this record would be considered a success, but Green Day are still capable of so much more. It’s good that they’ve reawoken some of their old punk sensabilities, they just haven’t convinced me they still want the same thing they wanted way back when.



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