Ah, Green Day. What a wonderfully divisive little band. Are you a fan of Dookie, or did you enjoy American Idiot? Arguments over what is better will continue to rage over Internet forums, and their newest release will only add fuel to the fire. On the face of it, ¡Uno! is a return to more irrelevant, less preachy days. On a proper listen, it isn’t quite that. If you were hoping for another Dookie, you’re going to be disappointed. But to be honest, that was never going to happen. Go to your favorite Internet forum and commence whinging.
So it’s not Green Day in their beginning years, but regardless Uno is a huge step away from the heavy rock-opera of American Idiot or even the less focused 21st Century Breakdown. In a way, there is a reminder here of Foo Fighter’s seminal Wasting Light, heard in the tone of a bad really letting their hair down. But it’s hard to give a final word on ¡Uno!. As you may have heard, Green Day are not releasing one album, but three. ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! will follow in the coming months, and fans will have to wait and see if this trilogy offers some overall message, or a patterned code hidden throughout the tracks. On first inspection, there doesn’t seem to be an overall message, at least not one on the scale of their previous two concept albums.
Going into the tracks themselves, the band seem on strong form. Album opener “Nuclear Family” hits hard and showcases the kind of classic rock riffs that much of the album will delight in using. The second track “Stay The Night” for instance begins with an intro that seems to be giving a sardonic nod to AC/DC. And for the most part, the album keeps this tone. It’s nice and simple punk-rock, which is no bad thing. For many Green Day fans this return will be entirely welcome. The problem however, is that apart from the distinctly odd “Kill The DJ” there is a big lack of variation. This isn’t bad, although it is unadventurous, and it does mean a few tracks get lost in the pile. The music on offer is good, and in general the tracks hold together as one of Green Day’s stronger offerings. But are we going to get two more albums of this? Time will tell, but it makes rating what otherwise feels like a short blast of cathartic punk a hard prospect.
That being said, there are still moments of Green Day’s political bent, particularly in track “Carpe Diem” which also deserves mention for a cracking guitar solo. It’s a good little anthem and one that will no doubt sit happily in their set list for a while. Equally, “Oh Love” and the previously mentioned album openers see Green Day back at their best and most importantly having fun. On the whole however, Green Day have managed to take a sidestep. They haven’t re-invented themselves and neither have they stepped back. The result is a perfectly good little album that fails to really make an impact. Good for the fans yes, but it’s a little disappointing to see from a band that initially took such risks, although it’s almost impossible to remember that in hindsight.
Of course in a month or so ¡Dos! could be a revelation that will completely change perceptions of this first release. I could be completely wrong, and I’ll have to wait for the rest of this little trilogy to see. At least I’m not going to have to wait long. But for now, here’s a score for ¡Uno! on its own. Maybe I’ll have to come back and fiddle with it later…