As Mama Odie said in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, “You got what you wanted, but you lost what you need”. That quote could not be truer when it comes to the relationship between Green Day’s hardcore fan base and the band’s brand new album ¡Uno!
The first of what is planned to be a series of three albums released between now and the end of January 2013, ¡Uno! is billed as a return to a more classic pop-punk sound. Green Day may have picked up a whole new set of fans when they transitioned into an album focused stadium rock act with 2004’s American Idiot, but fans of the old sound still remained. They call for ‘Basket Case’ and ‘Longview’ at every show; they bemoan the appearance of keyboards and violins in the mix, and what they really want Green Day to go back to sounding like they did before.
¡Uno! delivers just that, a return to simple arrangements, simple rhythms and simple hooks. ¡Uno! is an album of just what the fans want, but it really is not what Green Day need. This album just does not work on any level. Rather than sounding stripped down, raw and classic, the album feels lazy, tired and old. Once kings of the pop-punk hook, on this album Billie-Joe and friends instead decide to just reuse hooks they had before. The riff from ‘Let Yourself Go’ is lifted almost directly from the middle of American Idiot’s ‘Jesus of Suburbia’, and ‘Rusty James’ sounds like a duller version of 21st Century Breakdown’s ‘¡Viva la Gloria!’
The most blatant example of the failings of this album comes in the form of third track ‘Carpe Diem’. It trudges along a dull riff, Billie-Joe’s vocals sound tired and uninspired, and then in comes the chorus. “Carpe Diem, a battle cry”, Billie-Joe moans, “are we all too young to die?” In case you had forgotten, all the members of Green Day are currently pushing 40 years old, so certainly not “too young to die”, but my problem lies not with the relevance, but the effort. Green Day have picked one of the most cliché Latin phrases, and are presenting it as something radical. Seize the day is not very good battle cry, and certainly not one for a group of people claiming to be too young to die. I wouldn’t let a young punk band recording their first album get away with laziness like this, why should I stand for Green Day doing this on what is their ninth studio album?
This is an album of aging former punks trying to stay relevant. There’s more swearing in this album than you’ll find in American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown or even Dookie. Billie Joe attempts to scream a chorus in ‘Let Yourself Go’, and overall it’s just very sad. Green Day are a band that started to look like they had really evolved and found themselves in a new, more mature sound. In ¡Uno! they’re a band who really want to be ‘down with the kids’, but they haven’t seen any of ‘the kids’ since 1998.
If you’re a dedicated Green Day fan, you’ll buy this album no matter what I say. If you like Green Day, but don’t have to get everything they release, there are a sum total of two songs on this album worth your time. The lead single Oh Love is a perfectly harmless pop rock ditty, but shares more with their last two albums than the rest of ¡Uno! It also features a very Queen-esque guitar solo, which is always welcome to hear. The other track worth getting is Kill the DJ. This song sounds fun, energetic and, unlike every other track, I don’t feel like I’ve heard it before. This one is catchy, and the censored radio edit is sure to be a hit.
As an album on its own ¡Uno! has failed to be something worth the time it takes to sit through, but then again, it is part of a three album project. The next release, ¡Dos!, is meant to be an album of them trying a rockabilly garage rock sound, and the third, ¡Tre!, a collection of slower songs reminiscent of the more ballad like tracks on the two concept albums. If ¡Uno! is anything to go by, ¡Dos! is the only one of the three that will be worth the effort, because it seems to be the only one not based around Green Day repeating past glories. We will pass that bridge when we come to it, but for now, I recommend passing on ¡Uno!
Kill the DJ
Fell For You