On September 24, Green Day release the first in the trilogy of new albums called, ‘¡Uno!’, ‘¡Dos!’ and ‘¡Tre!’. After years spent rebranding as the thinking man’s pop-punk band (hello, high concept albums and Broadway musical!), ‘¡Uno!’ is Green Day’s noble attempt to dumb things back down. Here’s our first listen to the album, track-by-track.
You don’t need to wait for Billie Joe Armstrong’s snot-nosed vocals to kick in to know this is Green Day – the chunky guitars and opening drum rush tells you everything. A song about “The death of the nuclear family,” it’s a subject that would have been handled sombrely on either of Green Day’s last two albums. Here the band simply froth with excitement, dropping lines about “Drinking angel’s piss”. Whatever angel’s piss is, we’ll try a pint.
Put simply, it’s a song about getting your rocks off, with a big chorus and some grimy lyrics. “I’ve got an impulse so repulsive that it burns/I want to break your heart until it makes your stomach churn,” it says. Two tracks in, Green Day’s gearbox is still firmly set to ‘chugging’.
The title, of course, means ‘seize the day’. The song, instead, seizes a Clash riff: there’s more than a hint of Strummer and co’s ‘I Fought The Law’ cover in the opening bars, but then, Green Day have always been one part The Clash. “Carpe diem, a battle cry, are we all too young to die?” say the lyrics. Not any more, Billie.
Picking up the pace with a stomping beat and frantic guitar stabs, this is Green Day at their brattiest. It’s a song about an unnamed individual who, it’s fair to say, hasn’t impressed our trio much. “Shut your mouth cos you’re talking to much and I don’t give a damn anyway/You always seem to be stepping in shit and all you really do is complain,” it says, before its rousing chorus. Great squealing guitar solo at 1:50 too.
‘Kill The DJ’
Weird change of pace alert! This track – recently announced as a single – diverts from the pervading path of chunky punk to a strange reggae-disco hybrid. To be honest, it’s the weakest track so far, but it does include copious use of the word ‘fuck’ though, so your inner 11 year-old will be appeased.
After another very Clash-y sounding intro, ‘Fell For You’ is ‘60s pop fed through the power-punk machine. As with everything on this album, any soppy sentiment is cut through with a heaped spoon of gallows humour: this track opens as follows: “I woke up in a pool of sweat/At first I thought that I’d pissed the bed…”
Starting to spot a theme now: most of the tracks start with searing guitar chords, then in comes the frantic beat and we’re off. Chuck in a singalong chorus and you’ve got any given track on ‘¡Uno!’. It’s a simple formula but it works. This one is a bile-filled rebuke to anyone who’s pissed our misanthropic protagonist off in the past. “I’d rather go to a funeral than this high school reunion,” it says.
Another ‘60s-flavoured song, this time propelled by handclaps and a twiddly-diddly guitar solo. It’s a song about a strong desire to be naughty – and it sounds kind of naughty too.
Haven’t we heard this one before? Oh yeah, it’s another one with an intro that sounds a bit like ‘I Fought The Law’. Wonder Angel Blue is where the angel’s piss comes from?
Bit of a sweeter one this: Billie Joe’s voice is softer and higher, and the melody is sugar-sweet. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether a 40 year-old man should still be dreaming about his ‘sweet 16’.
The album’s is certainly picking up as it winds down; there’s a lovely melody on this track, which has that upbeat-downbeat thing the band do so well. There’s some throwaway stuff on this album, for sure, but this could easily become a fan favourite. “When there’s no-one else around/You’re the last gang in town,” it says. Could they be talking about themselves, 25 years into their career?
You’ll know this one by now. ‘Oh Love’ is the track that teased the album – a mid-tempo rocker that sounds, more than any other track here, like it could have fit on ‘21st Century Breakdown’.
And that’s it. If you wish the modern Green Day were a bit more like the band that released the seminal slacker album ‘Dookie’ back in 1994, you’re probably going to love ‘¡Uno!’. The band say ‘¡Dos!’ and ‘¡Tre!’ will be different – respectively, more “garage”-y and more “epic” – which is probably a good thing as this current sound begins to wear thin even over the course of one album. But that’s not to say this isn’t a great addition to the Green Day catalogue; and more than that, it’s their most fun album in years.