Logan J. Fowler goes green…
In both 2004 and 2009, Green Day released concept albums that were infused heavily with political undertones that helped usher them back into the mainstream after falling off the radar for many years. As word began to arise discussing what the band would focus on next, the news stated that the band would put focus more on their old school sound then their arena anthems. Not only that, but in addition, they would spread their work out over three albums.
The first of these three, ¡Uno!, is described by lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong as the pre-game of the “trilogy.” Armstrong chooses two main topics here to sing about, they being romance (be it sincere or broken) or just cutting loose. There are remnants of political wording in a few of the tunes, but it still sounds more in line with Dookie then it ever does with American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown.
“Nuclear Family” is the first track on the album, and it kick starts what is Green Day’s return to a state of nostalgic glory. See, ¡Uno! really does, in fact, provide an old school sound that the band built their success on, with a healthy blend of arena rock that they have utilized so well in the recent years. They also toss a bit of their garage rock sound in their bit too, which they toyed with on their side band project, Foxboro Hot Tubs. “Troublemaker,” track 8 on the album has the Foxboro musical styling blended with that of The Hives, and with that said, the tune is by far my favorite on the album.
Another thing to note here is that the album has a lot of songs that expand upon the Green Day sound. We’ve been used to hearing the slow sentimental stuff by them breaking up the power chord rock, but here their sound is a little bit more experimental, and I say, I’m all for it. Track 5, “Kill the DJ” has a sound that was probably influenced by a band I can’t place, but for that matter, it’s very unlike the band compared to what you’re used to hearing by them. The range demonstrated is welcome.
I can’t say that the album is going to garner any major critical acclaim, especially any one single song growing to something concrete in the halls of music history. The last track on the album, “Oh Love” is the single that you’ve probably heard on the radio already somewhere, but it’s really the weakest to be found here.
Green Day may have turned their back on what got them recognized again in the world of music, but for those of us that have been with the band since their early days, be it mainstream or underground, ¡Uno! is the band demonstrating that they don’t have to be political to make a good record. The album isn’t exactly their best, but as far as their worst…well, it’s not that either. To some, it may be that it’s just kind of there. I for one was pleasantly happy to have the band back, and while some tracks just haven’t worked for me, (“Let Yourself Go” and “Loss of Control” are ones I skip without regret), the throwback notion is there, and here’s hoping the follow up, ¡Dos! builds upon what is strong here. And that happens to be a good amount.