Review Summary: Their most immature record is their most accessible one yet, but not their most representative.¡UNO!
finds Green Day at what's arguably their poppiest state yet. The guitars are lighter in comparison with their previous efforts and the whole records comes in between Warning
's cleaner tone and Foxboro Hot Tubs' garage rock twang. While the band has never been renowned for their complicated song structures, on ¡UNO!
all tracks have the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-(eventual bridge)-chorus formula along with simple, to the point instrumentals.
Focusing on creating a trilogy more than on songs themselves, it sometimes feels as if the band has been economical, each track being developed from one musical idea and often stretched on for too long. The numbers aren't as developed here (of course in Green Day's own terms) as on their latest records, but aren't as short and harder as on their 90s material. Also, the lyrics are at times lazy and tend to be a bit repetitive, especially on tracks like "Let Yourself Go", "Loss Of Control" and "Kill The DJ". Still, these negative aspects don't drag the album down that much, because at least this time the band feels as if they have some fun, rather than just going through motions without any clear mindset or story, which is 21st Century Breakdown
relies mostly on catchy melodies and singalongs, becoming Green Day's most accessible album yet. The whole album is made out of power chords with usually short, unmemorable solos, loose drumming (after 20 years Tre Cool hasn't developed his drumming skills at all, no offense) and enough ooohs and aaahs to make the listener hum along during the choruses. Even so, not all tracks here are as successful, as "Carpe Diem" and "Angel Blue" are easily forgettable. They are not necessarily bad, since most of the songs on ¡UNO!
are flat like these, but they don't have the hooks to make an impact whatsoever on the listener. On the other hand, opener "Nuclear Family" and "Fell For You" both offer a lot of fun. The former is, simply put, a great pop punk song similar to any Nimrod.
track and the latter has the sweet innocence of their debut 39/Smooth
, that will make the listener smile and the cute lyrics sound as if they've been taken from an adolescent's diary ("I had a dream that I kissed your lips and it felt so true/Then I woke up as a nervous wreck and I fell for you").
Also, tracks like "Kill The DJ" and "Troublemaker" offer a little variation here just because they sound slightly different. "Kill The DJ" has a disco feel, featuring funky guitar riffs and some cool tremolo licks, while "Troublemaker", with its spoken word verses and clear Foxboro Hot Tubs influenced stop-start riffs, has some attitude (this can be seen as Green Day's attempt at swag). Of course, there aren't any statements to be found here, nor any depth in the lyrics, just some fun attempting to break the routine. "Rusty James" is one of the most accomplished songs on the record and one of the few to share some nostalgia in its message, as it can be seen as an homage to the band's hey days (and the whole punk rock scene that broke the mainstream) back in the 90s, giving way to newer trends ("This broken scene is turning green/Brass knuckles left in the rain/Death wish kids among the living" & "And all the losers, can't even win for losing/And the beginners don't even know what song they're singing"). The fact is that even if the scene has changed a lot since their breakthrough back in 1994, Green Day have pretty much stayed the same and are easily recognizable at any hour whether for their 90s classics or their overplayed (and occasional good) singles from American Idiot
and 21st Century Breakdown
In the end, this is Green Day at one of their most immature states (or at a midlife crisis) in their career and this album is the best the audience could've gotten at this point. The guys will never go back to their early sound as they are too big now to leave aside the shallow arena rock. As a result, ¡UNO!
fits best somewhere in between Kerplunk
as it features enough songs about sex and teenager angst (even the profanity level has upped a bit) to think Billie had these songs kept in some diary for 20 years now. Still, he is too conscious of where he is now and the fact that he is 40 and this is seen on tracks like "Rusty James" and "Sweet 16". If taken as it is, a simple, fun record, ¡UNO!
is a solid record, but unfortunately it doesn't have any infectious tracks to be remembered or any depth to become a milestone in their career (except for the fact that they are releasing a trilogy). For fans who have stuck with the band since the beginning this is more valuable than to those who found Green Day through American Idiot.