Green Day goes back to basics with “¡Uno!”

By Kevin Durso
September 27, 2012

The powerful punk-rock trio released their first of a trilogy of albums, “¡Uno!” on Tuesday, Sept. 25.

For Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool, together known as Green Day, this is their first studio album since “21st Century Breakdown,” in 2008.

“¡Uno!” is a trip down memory lane for long-time Green Day fans who have followed the band since they first went mainstream nearly 20 years ago. Fans who can remember the band’s first album with Reprise Records, “Kerplunk,” or their breakthrough album “Dookie” will love the classic sound that “¡Uno!” delivers.

Gone from Green Day’s latest album is the rock opera background with songs playing out in a chronological order telling a story. Also removed from this album are the nine-minute epics with mashed-up snippets of songs like “Jesus of Suburbia” from “American Idiot” or “American Eulogy” from “21st Century Breakdown.”

The album opens with two songs that can only be described as vintage Green Day. “Nuclear Family” and “Stay the Night” set the tone for the album with lyrics like “it won’t be long ‘til I detonate,” and “I’ve got an impulse so repulsive that it burns.”

“Carpe Dium,” the album’s third track, provides inspirational lyrics that scream of the literal meaning of the Latin phrase. As the chorus states “are we all too young to die?”

As with albums past, Green Day finds a nice balance of rage and love to combine heartfelt lyrics – as in songs “Fell for You” and “Sweet 16” – with anger and hatred directed to past demons – as in “Loss of Control” and “Let Yourself Go.”

It is one of the trades the band has mastered, combining sensitive love songs with raging punk to throw a little bit of everything onto a single album.

The band also continues to avoid being a one-trick pony. After experimenting successfully with lengthy epics and rock operas, the band pokes at today’s modern mainstream music in “Kill the DJ.”

The song, released as a single one month before the album’s release, combines traditional rock standard with a techno feel. It is the lyrics that provide the shots complete with the chorus repeatedly saying “someone kill the DJ.”

The final track of the album, “Oh Love,” has already seen mainstream success. The band released the song as a single in July.

The album release comes right on the heels of Armstrong’s recent expletive-laden rant at the iHeartRadio Music Festival and subsequent entry into rehab.

As Armstrong proclaimed in his rant, “I’ve been around since 1988” and “I’m not…Justin Bieber.” This is where Green Day’s album trilogy will succeed and fail.

1988 was 24 years ago. Green Day’s first album, “Kerplunk,” was released 20 years ago in 1992. Green Day is slowly seeing the classics of “Kerplunk” – which did feature the hit song “Welcome to Paradise” – and “Dookie” transition from modern and mainstream rock to classic rock.

The band does have to face facts. As much as they want to be recognized in mainstream, they will never be cut out for Ryan Seacrest’s daily top five with the likes of Bieber and Usher – it was Usher’s extended set list at iHeartRadio that led to Green Day’s shortened set and Armstrong’s rant.

But for the die-hard, outcast Green Day fans, who connect with the music and relate to the stories its members tell, “¡Uno!” will be another hit.

Green Day’s first album in four years kicks off an era that really does show the band’s creativity even after 20 years of making music. With albums “¡Dos!” and “¡Tré!” due out on Nov. 13 and Jan. 15 respectively, it will be interesting to see what kind of creativity Green Day delivers next.

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Kevin Durso

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