2012 was a busy year for Green Day. Singer and Guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong entered anger management rehab, bassist Mike Dirnt met his birth mother a month before she died, and they still managed to release three albums entitled, obviously, Uno!, Dos! and Tre!
To summarize the mood of these three albums, I would tell you the story they tell. Unlike American Idiot (2004) and 21st Century Breakdown (2009), the band’s previous albums, they aren’t ridden with political underlining regarding angst filled characters struggling to survive in their scene, but instead being about a guy who prepares for a party (Uno) goes to the party (Dos) and has a Hangover (Tre). They are Green Day’s break from their scene, going back to their original, “F**k shit up” attitude, trying to give all the fans moaning about Dookie (1994) being “the good old days” etc. something to listen to. The addition of touring member Jason White becoming an official member brings guitar solos into pretty much every song, probably putting Green Day into a more modern scene then they were hoping for. But are they any good?
The first of the three is built around pop-punk, being very bouncy, imagine Warning (2000) mixed with Nimrod (1997), but angry and angst-y in the lyrics, nothing as psycho and “against myself” as Insomniac (1995), but as is demonstrated with lines such as “You’re a stupid motherf**ker serving shit to the pigs” (Loss of Control) or “Shut your mouth ’cause you’re talking too much and I don’t give a damn anyway.” (Let Yourself Go), it’s evident they’re not really in a good mood.
The album begins with the fantastic “Nuclear Family”, easily one of the best tracks on the trilogy. It’s big, loud and proud guitar opening hook let’s you know you’re in for a wild ride. The other star track on the album is, in my eyes, is “Rusty James”, the penultimate track, very melancholy in it’s lyrics, reciting how Green Day can’t quite seem to fit in with today’s scene.
Sadly, the album does drop down in quality after track 1. I really liked “Stay the Night” at first, but now seems pretty quickly forgettable, especially when compared to some of the tracks on Tre! “Carpe Diem” is good, with a great, excited, war cry of a chorus. It’s catchy as hell. “Let Yourself Go” is angry beyond measure, riddled with profanity and Billie Joe’s voice turning into it’s 1994 post-pubescent snarl. This song has generally received a good reception, and it’s not hard to see why, as listening to it just makes you want to explode with punky anger, and a real “Don’t give a shit” attitude.
“Kill the DJ” is Green Day’s experiment on this album, being more of a dance-rock track then anything else on the album. It’s hard not to sing along to once you’ve heard it a couple of times, despite having a mixed reaction, I feel it would be hard to dislike too much. The next two tracks, “Fell for You” and “Loss of Control” are very similar, and both fairly forgettable. The former just seems out of place lyrically (“I woke up in a pool of sweat, first thought that I’d pissed the bed” is funny at first, until you realise that it was the best they could come up with.), while the latter is just bland and uninteresting.
“Troublemaker” is a step in the right direction, being very well co-ordinated around a great, garage-y guitar riff. Filled with cool vocal fills (“ooh”s, “hey”s, “yeah”s etc.) and a genuinely cool solo that should have you reaching for your air guitar. “Angel Blue” is good, very catchy in it’s lyrics, and a great one to sing along with. The guitar and vocal only post-solo gets stuck in your head like crazy though. Next is “Sweet 16″, probably the most romantic and slowest paced track on the album (But nothing as dreary as “Wake me up when September Ends”, “21 Guns”, or the upcoming “Drama Queen” on Tre!). It’s a pretty cool mixture of major and power chords, one to make you feel actually pretty emotional if you’re in the right place.
After that is “Rusty James” (see above) and then closes with the first single “Oh Love”, which is repetitive, but enjoyable. Cool rhythmic exchange between mutes on the guitars, and the chorus is fun. A bit rubbish as a closing track though, I reckon. But it leaves you wanting more.
Oh, and the music video is porn.
Green Day followed Uno up with, well, Dos. Betcha didn’t expect that? You’ve probably heard Dos described as “more like Green Day’s garage-y side project, the Foxboro Hot Tubs”, and yeah, that’s probably a good way to describe it. Lyrically, it’s more like telling stories and sharing experiences then personal thoughts (showed in “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” and “Makeout Party” among others) . It’s also undoubtably the worst of the three.
The best track on the album is unquestionably the lead single, “Stray Heart”, which is like an 80s pop-rock deal, built around Mike Dirnt’s funky-as-hell bass line. The chorus is thoroughly enjoyable, and there are some great drums throughout. Got to love it. Another great track on Dos is “Lazy Bones“. Being all about boredom and loathing, it’s along the same lyrical strand as “Longview”, but musically, a lot more modern and actually a little indie in some parts.
Sadly, little is left. The opening track is a weird, acoustic-y, could be on a country album, whine entitles “See you Tonight” After that we get “F**k Time” (Yes, that’s what it’s called) which, if you look past the silliness is actually quite enjoyable, and Billie/Jason descends up the twelve bar blues during the chorus as does the rhythm guitar during the brilliant guitar solo, giving it a very “Rock and Roll” feel. “Wild One” is just dull. Nothing else to say. “Baby Eyes” is weird. And dull. The chorus to verse transition is pretty cool though, you can’t help but swing your head as he says “Kill”. “Ashely” is enjoyable, but forgettable, although the repeating chorus is very fun.
“Stop When the Red Lights Flash” is good, it seems to be about the mafia or something. It’s fast paced, has a cool beginning, and the backing “woo-oohs” make the chorus lots of fun. Plus, it’s catchy as hell. You’ll have “I’ll make you surrender” stuck in your head for hours. “Makeout Party” is naff, who wants to hear 40 year olds singing about Spin the Bottle and Truth or Dare? The vocals manage to slightly redeem the lyrics, which is good, and the song has a brilliant, proper, meaty bass solo, sadly the only real one in the trilogy.
“Lady Cobra” is ultimately unmemorable, but it’s alright while it lasts. Billie Joe puts some weird effects on his voice which actually work alright. Not one I’d skip. “Wow! That’s Loud” begins blandly, despite the high pitched guitar lick, almost sounding like horns, but ends with what appears to be Green Day’s toe into grunge. Weird. “Nightlife” is absolutely terrible, unquestionably the worst track on the trilogy. Who the hell wants rap on a Green Day album? Apparently Billie Joe’s obscure rapper lady friend Lady Cobra (Yes, one of the songs was about her). Billie’s vocals are so caked in crusty effects you can’t tell what he’s singing (whatever it it, it’s dreary as hell), and you don’t know if you should be happy or not when the rap starts. It’s a shame, because the instruments are good. Still, you’ve got to admire them for trying new things.
Then we end with “Amy”, Green Day’s acoustic, again, almost wading into that pool of indie, tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. It’s quite slow, and a little dull, but you can tell his heart’s in it and it’s impossible not to feel a little moved when you hear it. And that ends Dos, and you’ll look back and remember it being fun, but only a few tracks properly stood out.
Tre is undoubtedly the best of the three. It is the most mature (despite the fact I would’ve said the most Dookie-sounding one would be the best – that’s Uno, by the way), there are no cheap songs, everything is thought out, grown up, and it’s also by far the most accomplished, which is weird, considering the fact that Tre was meant to be a messy hangover. Musically it’s very similar to American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown.
Track 5, “X-Kid”, is definitely the best on the album, and probably the best on the trilogy in my eyes. It’s got a gorgeous, clear guitar riff throughout, accompanied by some properly brilliant lyrics and vocals, until the chorus, when everything kicks in. Truly, truly brilliant. Another memorable track is “Dirty Rotten Bastards” which is 2012s “Jesus of Suburbia”, build up of various song into one (six minute, as opposed to nine) epic. It begins with a mocking Yeah-yeah-yeah chant, before going into a brilliant sea shanty, christmas carol-y verse, and then becomes more aggressive as the song (or is that songs) goes on, with some great riffs and one moment with some properly great bass playing.
“Brutal Love”, our opening track, is a slow, jazz-y number (think “Last Night on Earth” but with a guitar pattern instead of a piano) which quickly picks up the pace and the aggression of the instruments as the song progresses. “Drama Queen” is a dreary acoustic track, with some bell action going on as it progresses. Durable. “Missing You” and “Walk Away” both stand out as the two most forgettable tracks on the album. Both repeating their titles throughout, neither too catchy or with extremely enticing lyrics/instruments, but they’re both enjoyable. “Amanda” is a fast paced track, more pop-punk, more like something you’d find on Uno, and probably the only track on the album that would seem out of place on American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown. It’s still good, but can get annoying an repetitive if you hear it too many times.
“8th Avenue Serenade”, “Sex, Drugs and Violence” and “A Little Boy Named Train” are all very similar, and all very enjoyable. They could be compared to “Letterbomb”, but they’re far less angry. They all have the same kind of opening lick, run over a power chord structure, which runs throughout the songs. The titles are used frequently throughout, and they’re all very catchy. The former should be recognised for it’s oddly worded chorus: “Sex, Drugs, and Violence, English Math and Science”, but then again, Mike Dirnt pops up to sing a great line “I don’t want to be an imbecile, but Jesus made me this way.” “99 Revolutions”, the penultimate track on the album, and, therefore, the trilogy, is a great track, very similar to “The Static Age”, in both the drums-guitar beginning, and extremely similar theme preached by the lyrics. “The Static Age” is more about technology, though, whereas “99 Revolutions” is about the government and political minority. As political as the trilogy gets, and still not very so, especially when compared to recent albums.
Finally, the hangover ends with piano ballad “The Forgotten”. You might recognise it, as apparently it was played during the closing credits of “The Twilight Saga- Breaking Dawn Part 2″. It’s really based around the piano, before jazz drums and slow bass join in, as do some string synths, with a wonderful guitar solo. The vocals really bring out Billie Joe’s passion for the song, and the lyrics, all about loss, and attempting to not let it happen, fit in very well to the musical mood of the track. A great ending to a great album.
And that’s your review. Should you get Uno, Dos, or Tre? Into punk/stuff to move to? Get Uno. You liked American Idiot? Get Tre? Big fan of Green Day? Get all of them. Are you new to Green Day? Get Tre.
No, if you’re new to Green Day, get Dookie.
But maybe I’m wrong.
“Or maybe I’m just dumb.”