Review Summary: A significant step up and a movement in the right direction.
Alas, it seems like many Green Day fans have already given up on this trilogy idea. !UNO! was pleasant but unremarkable, and !DOS! saw some of Billie Joe Armstrong's most forgettable songwriting on display. Luckily, !TRE! is a return to something resembling the Green Day we know and love. It's not likely to make anyone's all-time top three albums, or even the top three of this band, but it's finally something to enjoy as a Green Day fan.
After 'Brutal Love' wafted in with a chiming riff and sweet melody, I was immediately more optimistic. Unfortunately, the opener to !TRE! drags on for about two minutes too long. After what becomes a fairly repetitive introduction, 'Missing You' is a rejuvenating second track. 'American Idiot' is strongly present, as is a 'Warning' style chorus melody that restores faith in Billie's ability to come up with insanely catchy singalongs.
This thankfully isn't a one-time occurrence on !TRE!. The garage-style guitar sound that formed the saving grace of !DOS! is present, but used in a much more refined way, appealing to a listener's pop sensibilities. Similarly, !UNO!'s harmony and melody is reproduced effectively, meaning that Green Day's third effort combines the best parts of the first two. The feel-good tone on 'X-Kid' is refreshing and much needed, combining a familiar riff with a gorgeous melody and the most contemplative lyrics that Billie has written throughout the whole messy trilogy.
Though, The best part of !TRE! is its continuity and structure. There's no bizarre reggae/ska, fewer nonsensical lyrics about teenage sex romps, and most importantly, no 'Nightlife'. The more zany tracks are tasteful and fun - '8th Avenue Serenade' is a cheerful indie bopper that doesn't instantly alienate the listener with weird lyrics or unnecessary rhythms, but still pushes the boundaries of what we've known from Green Day in the past. Even the pretentious 'Dirty Rotten Bastards', which fails in its quest to be 'Jesus of Suburbia 2.0', still has its moments despite being unnecessary in the course of the album.
What's more, there's even some throwbacks for the older fans of the band. the Jam-esque 'Little Boy Named Train' hints at a more classic Green Day sound, and 'Sex, Drugs and Violence' could come out of 'Nimrod' (at a stretch perhaps), despite its frankly stupid lyrics about Math and Science in the chorus. The chords and melodies are closer to what we've expected from Green Day in the past.
Barring a documentary to come in 2013, !TRE! brings the curtain down on what could be called a failed experiment for Green Day in 2012. Had the trio offered up the third effort by itself and come up with a better name for it, most fans would have probably been satisfied, such is the step up from the frankly unnecessary !DOS!. Of course, !TRE! has duds of its own. 'Drama Queen' is a failed attempt at crooning from Armstrong, and although 'The Forgotten' tugs nicely on the heartstrings in parts, it never rises to the great heights lyrically or musically that it might have - given the string section and five minute timespan. The thirteen year old fans might find meaning in it, but it's actually rather boring after the guitar solo. Past that, however, !TRE! is a success worthy of the band's proven talent. One really has to wonder whether the second and third installments of this trilogy were written by the same man.
8th Avenue Revolutions