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GREENDAY – “¡Uno!”

Posted September 25, 2012 by in Punk





Total Score

4/ 5

Raw Roots Rock Score

Date Released: September 21, 2012
Label: Reprise
Length: 41:44
Quick Opinion

Veteran punk rockers get to work on follow-up to “21st Century Breakdown”, and can’t stop writing. The result – three follow-ups! Here’s the first. A fresh-sounding gem!

by Jaylow
Full Article

Image source: Wikipedia

“¡Uno!”, the hotly-anticipated first album of a trilogy to be released by Green Day in the coming months, has appeared (the next two, obviously, will be “Dos!” and “Tres!”) and has been worth the wait for their legions of fans worldwide. Discarding the mini-rock-opera song-suites of the previous two albums, “¡Uno!” is a straight forward collection of punchy, hard-edged power-pop and snotty punk rock. The album kicks off in a fine style with the bright, bouncy “Nuclear Family”, reminiscent of their 1994 breakthrough set “Dookie”. As is often the case with Billie Joe Armstrong’s songs, the up-beat rock ‘n’ roll feel belies the dark subject matter of the lyrical commentary on this standout track. The question of whether a band of 40 year olds can carry the punk flame convincingly is answered here with a resounding “Yes”! The crisp production and energetic performance demonstrate that the band remains fresh and vital.

By its very nature, much punk rock can become a bit samey after a while, due to the limitations of the genre, however Green Day manage to navigate around this restriction due to the variety of strong melodies at the disposal of Billie Joe Armstrong, and the pop sensibility he possesses alongside his punk fury. The strength of the rhythmic thrust places a foot in each camp of rock, pop, and alternative fans.

Like all the great exponents of riff-based rock, Armstrong knows when NOT to play, giving the chunky, choppy riffs air and allowing the rhythm section to drive the song’s structure forward with the beat. The familiar Green Day trio (Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, drummer Tre Cool) have been joined by a fourth member this time, Jason White on guitar, who has augmented the band on stage since 1999, finally graduating to full membership and giving the act a fuller heavy-rock sound. Armstrong has described the album as somewhere between AC/DC and the early Beatles, and that’s a fair description of the results here.

 Like all the great exponents of riff-based rock, Armstrong knows when NOT to play, giving the chunky, choppy riffs air and allowing the rhythm section to drive the song’s structure forward with the beat.

“Stay the Night”, the album’s second track, is a lusty tale of lost-love revisited (“I wanna break your heart until it makes your stomach churn”), while “Let Yourself Go” fires the middle of the album up with an angst-filled fury. “Carpe Diem” is an example of the under-rated and clever use of backing vocal harmonies, that assist the melodies in making Green Day songs so catchy. This technique is also utilised to great effect on “Rusty James”, and also on “Fell For You”, in which another catchy rock ‘n’ roller creates the platform for an atypical and ambiguous lovesong lyric, revealing a softer side of Billie Joe – also evident of “Sweet 16”. “Loss of Control” is suitably fast and heavy, while “Troublemaker” is another bouncy riff, with a clean guitar sound this time, over a rebellious lyrics. At the risk of sounding like a nana, one criticism of the lyrics is the overuse of unnecessary swearing, especially on “Kill the DJ” – it reduces the point-making effectiveness of the occasional expletive, and at times undermines the otherwise impressive lyrical abilities of the intelligent Armstrong. His voice, one of the most distinctive in rock today, is in fine form and he uses this weapon well.

“Oh Love”, the single released to precede the album has been picked up extensively by radio, and debuted at number one of the US Top Rock Songs chart. It closes the album and provides on the undoubted highlights with its folk-tinged structure and arrangement. The string-numbing effect is used well here, providing dual moods and creating a dramatic tension within an extremely catchy tune. “Oh Love” will surely become a Green Day classic to sit alongside the likes of “When I Come Around”, “Basketcase”, “American Idiot”,  and “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”.  The album is one of the year’s rock highlights, and the next two instalments are awaited with baited breath.


(Feature image courtesy of Stephan Kohler –

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