Green Day - ¡Uno! (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
AFTER broadening out their sound with concept albums American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown and becoming one of the world’s biggest bands in the process, should we disappointed that ¡Uno!, their latest, marks such a return to basics.
The answer, in this fan’s mind, is yes and no. Yes because Green Day are at their best when keeping things versatile. No because ¡Uno! – the first of a trilogy with ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! being released before Christmas – is such a fun listen.
Devised almost completely of the spiky punk rock sound that helped bring them to attention, it’s evidence of a band throwing off the shackles of concept album song-writing and high-brow lyricism.
It could also be the sound, we say with tongue planted firmly in cheek, of a band entering a mid-life crisis and seeking a return to the raw intensity of their 20s, complete with homages to their idols, from The Clash through to The Sex Pistols and even The Smiths.
In fact, the ethos is perhaps best summed up on the brash crowd-pleaser Let Yourself Go, which also finds the band letting it all hang out and going for broke. It’s rowdy, kick-ass and proud of it too.
Kill The DJ, meanwhile, is a f**k strewn slice of pop-inflicted punk and funk that is made for chanting along with, while Fell For You is one of a couple of tracks that almost blatantly reference The Clash in the guitar sound (most notably I Fought The Law during its robust opening).
The smartest thing about ¡Uno! is its simplicity. The trio have created a sound that’s not only familiar to their own fans, but also to anyone in touch with the punk-rock genre. It’s fair to say that a lot of the songs sound familiar, even if you’re hearing them for the first time, which – in turn – brings an instant accessibility to them.
But then Billie Joe Armstrong also proves himself a canny song-writer by tossing in so many easy to get behind elements. Carpe Diem is rife with crowd-pleasing moments, Feel For You is chock full of sexy day-dream lyrics (“I have a dream that I kissed your lips and it felt so true”) complete with “ai ai” harmonies, and Troublemaker has some of the most instantly addictive hooks on the LP, complete with a gutsy vocal that screams with John Lydon similarities.
That’s not to say there isn’t some fire too. The anger synonymous with punk is fully apparent on the bruising Loss of Control, which finds Armstrong lashing out at his “enemies ‘cause they’re all so f**king useless” and declaring over the punchy chorus: “We’re all crazy, you’re all crazy now.”
The guitars on that song are particularly rousing, especially during the riotous solo that is sure to go down a storm during live sets.
Elsewhere, further highlights arrive in the form of the highly melodic Sweet 16, a coming-of-age ode to first love, and final track and former single Oh Love, which does actually slow down the tempo slightly and ends proceedings with a big bang. The stop-start riffs, the impassioned vocals and the anthemic chorus come together so well and offer a pertinent reminder of how Green Day have also matured since those early punk rock days.
Put together, though, ¡Uno! is a short, sharp blast of energy that is impossibly infectious, even if it’s not necessarily Green Day at their best. Yet with two more albums still to come, we’re probably sounding a little spoilt – especially as this capably leaves you wanting more.
Download picks: Nuclear Family, Let Yourself Go, Kill The DJ, Troublemaker, Sweet 16, Oh Love
Watch the video for Oh Love: