Originally published in the Hindu Sunday Magazine on September 30, 2012:
It’s pretty easy to sum up Green Day’s first instalment in their punk rock trilogy titled ‘¡Uno!’, ‘¡Dos!’, and ‘¡Tré!’ respectively – playing it safe. The albums are produced by the California punk rockers’ long-time collaborator Rob Cavallo, whose previous projects included ‘Nimrod’, ‘Insomniac’ and ‘American Idiot’.
The fans will be happy with ‘¡Uno!’ – Especially anyone who loved ‘Dookie’ and ‘Warning’ (that is, anyone who disliked ‘21st Century Breakdown’). There’s a hint of their old garage rock secret project Foxboro Hot Tubs on one of their lead singles, ‘Kill the DJ’. Meant to be dance-punk, the track is probably one of the radio-friendly tracks. Of course, even a radio-friendly punk rock track is expected to include profanities.
‘Nuclear Family’ opens the album, complete with a guitar solo which shows that Green Day can carry on the style they had left behind. Or at least the one they had put away for a while.
‘¡Uno!’ Has a jaded vibe about it, although that is not to say Green Day is lazy. The effort is there, but maybe it shows more promise on the next two albums.
It’s difficult to defend the senseless lyrics of Billie Joe Armstrong, but sometimes punk rock can be that way, without having to justify itself. ‘Just Let Yourself Go’ is a perfect case in point, and it’s not a special song, but the anthem has rage, a confusing emotion to convey when Armstrong is talking about freedom.
‘Fell For You’ has more of those nonsensical lyrics, seeming too stream-of-consciousness at times: “I’ll spend the night living in denial/Making paper planes just for a while. I’ll crash into you, crash into you/Did you crash in my imagination too?”
It’s not so much a problem of musical simplicity as it is of foolish, absurd lyrics coming out of Armstrong. It works sometimes, though. Like on ‘Troublemaker’, which is repetitive but short, so that it doesn’t overdo the same melody.
They make perfect sense when they sing about love in a different way, probably for the fifth or sixth time on this album. When their other single ‘Oh Love’ closes the album, you really wish they would stop repeating the same two lines for the last minute of the song.
It’s safe to say there is nothing radically different on ‘¡Uno!’ It’s classic Green Day, except it doesn’t pack the same amount of punch as their previous punk rock efforts.
They probably have a concept of some kind with their upcoming trilogy, but ‘¡Uno!’ leaves a lot more to be desired of the next two albums.