Review Summary: The last stand.
On the final part of the trilogy, Green Day bring out the last collection of tracks that might be their most diverse yet. Unlike the previous two efforts, iTRÉ!
owes more to Warning than iUNO!
, featuring more mid-tempo tracks more carefully crafted. However, like its predecessors iTRÉ!
is also run through the Foxboro Hot Tubs sound filter.
What's relieving is the fact that this time there's no embarrassing attempt at stepping out of the comfort zone, instead Green Day are trying to cover all the grounds they've taken on before. Still, unlike the two counterparts preceding it, iTRÉ!
is the most lyrically maligned, some songs having what's arguably the worst lines frontman Billie Joe Armstrong penned yet. From the chorus on "Sex, Drugs & Violence" that goes :"Sex, drugs and violence/ English, Math and Science/ Safety in numbers/ Gimme gimme danger", the sprawled, 6 minute epic "Dirty Rotten Bastards" that's going everywhere and nowhere at the same time, to the semi-acoustic croon that is "Drama Queen", which bears the strange lyrics "Daddy's little bundle of joy/ Out of a magazine/ Everyone's drama queen/ Is old enough to bleed now". On a first read the listener can only ask himself whether these are the confessions of a pedophile, since the meaning of the track is left quite unclear.
Still, it's interesting to see that in between these terrible lyrical missteps, there are also some aspects that (if are to be taken seriously) provide some insight into Billie Joe's lifestyle that has taken its toll on him as of lately. For example, the aforementioned "Dirty Rotten Bastards" is an ode to partying and indirectly a midlife crisis statement ("I've got an urge/ To binge and surge/ The tables turn/ To crash and burn[...]We're too old to be misbehaved/ We sold our souls and we're so ashamed of ourselves"). While the song isn't bad, it doesn't have any substance and just switches gears without saying anything really. It has some good parts here and there, but knowing the band could do so much better (see "Jesus Of Suburbia and even "Homecoming" off American Idiot
) it only feels disappointing. "Sex, Drugs & Violence" has some small details of his childhood: "I've been getting lost searching my soul/ All around this town/ I took a wrong turn at growing up/ And it's freaking me out". It's nothing special but there are some scattered bits that have some actual meaning. Given more time, maybe Billie Joe would've avoided all the stupid verses and focus more on improving the lyrics. Unfortunately, it's too late to change them now.
Leaving these negative aspects aside, a lot of the songs on iTRÉ!
are more attentively crafted than most of others released in the past months, complete with string sections (see "Brutal Love", where Billie Joe feels the need of an orchestra and doo-wop to point out the sadness in his beloved eyes regarding his refusal for ...brutal love) and the lot here is more diverse, which diminishes the monotony. For example, the more contemplative tracks like "X-Kid" and "Walk Away" both have opening riffs somewhat reminiscent to R.E.M.'s latest output (2008's Accelerate
and some parts of Collapse Into Now
), but as soon as the whole band kicks in everything sounds just like Green Day again. Even so, both are a welcomed breath of fresh air in this bloated trilogy and hint towards a more mature perspective of the band. The late tribute to the Occupy Wall Street protests, "99 Revolutions" is another solid tune, being one of the more energetic ones here. It has a nice melody and the chorus gets away for being catchy even though it's continuously repeated for almost a minute towards the end. This one will most probably become a live favorite from the trilogy. Also, "Missing You" and "8th Avenue Serenade" both harken back to the pre-Dookie
era, again featuring sweet teenager lyrics concerning love and loss. Even though they don't sound as unpolished as Green Day's first two records, they come across as some the most fun and honest tracks on iTRÉ!
In the end, iTRÉ!
is unexpectedly the strongest record overall of the three. Although it has its own issues, these don't drag that much the whole affair down and there aren't any horrible missteps such as "Nightlife". Like the band described it, it's a "mixed bag" of emotions and styles they have tackled with in the past and present. The lyrical content is the biggest flaw here, since it really shows how rushed the whole thing is (or at least it seems). For fans and haters alike, it's a relief that Green Day are done releasing albums for now, as the guys did enough damage already to their career. Unfortunately, one album's worth of great songs overall can't sustain the bulk of the average ones and more people will remember this trilogy for the commercial flop and the cringe worthy moments than for the better tunes drowned on iUNO!
. It's time for them to sit back, have a long holiday and try to come up with something tighter and more concise to recapture the lost fans back, but also to prove they still have it.