Artist: Green Day
Genre: Powerpop, Pop-punk, Punk
Label: Reprise Records
The only way to describe my relationship with Green Day is life changing. Hell, it actually borders on being the single most defining relationship I’ve ever had in music. As the first band I would ever support financially through funds I had earned, Dookie would set the standard of how and what music would enter my life. Although I didn’t know it then, that twelve bucks I would spend on the album while standing in that K-mart checkout line would easily become the most influential exchange I had ever made in my life. Like the loss of my virginity and the death of my mother, it would serve as a key moment that shifted the way I viewed everything surrounding me from that moment forward.
Since I grew up the product of a broken home, in a small, blue-collar farm town in South East Kansas, money wasn’t something we had unlimited access to. Therefore, Dookie would remain my only cd for almost six months. Over and over, I would spin the disc on a loop. However, somewhere down the line I would realize that I wasn’t doing so simply due to necessity. I had actually bonded with the album.
Green Day had taken the version of me which was poor, awkward and often bullied and pushed me to be unique and strong. They were my first taste of the punk mentality, which stuck with me throughout my life. At 12, Dookie would define who I was in a way that sticks with me even now at 31. To this day my relationship with Green Day has outlasted almost every friendship, love affair and partnership I have ever had. They’re like a marriage.
And like any marriage, we’ve had some growing pains. 21st Century Breakdown and I didn’t exactly see eye to eye at first and it took me a while to open up to American Idiot. I would eventually make peace with both. ¡Uno! however has easily been the album which has been the closest to sending us into marriage counseling.
Our problems stem from change. ¡Uno! is a huge leap from the Green Day I grew up loving. Now without question there are pieces of the band that can still be found lingering in the mix. In fact the album’s opening two tracks, “Nuclear Family” and “Stay the Night” remain steadfast in the band’s signature fold of big solos, bold bass lines and balls to the wall punk drumming. Additionally, both cuts stick to Billie Joe’s witty approach to songwriting. His swagger rolls off his sharp tongue and his no fucks attitude resonates through his vocal riffs. It isn’t until the album’s third track ”Carpe Diem” however that the album reveals the band’s obvious crush on The Clash. Hell, if not otherwise informed, a person could easily confuse the song’s solo for that of Mick Jones. This sentiment is placed on repeat in tracks “Let Yourself Go” “Kill The Dj” and “Feel For You.” “Let yourself Go” for example boasts an arena rock drum building under the vocals before cranking into head on, full tilt guitar explosion. The track is hands down the best instrumental work on the album, displaying an often overlooked talent in punk music, often buried in dick and fart jokes and middle finger melodramas. Additionally, I can see a lot of “Rock the Casbah” and “Rudie Can’t Fail” in “Kill the DJ.” While I feel like the song itself might be a failed attempt to capture the spirit animal of their idols, I can certainly recognize their effort.
Sadly however, there are spots on the album I struggle to understand. “Loss of Control” and “Troublemaker” both fail to do anything for me. With cliché lyrics and emotionless riffs the songs fall flat. Short of being marked off as filler material, I find little reason for their existence.
However, Green Day does manage to do their fans a solid, ending the album on a high note. “Oh Love,” the album’s closing track slams the door in a very similar manner to Macy’s Day Parade. With a catching intro leading into a wall of sound guitar/organ build which punches the listener in the face, the band manages to prove they can take a typical punk pop structure and turn it into an arena rock anthem. Different from the rest of the album, the fist-pumping power track is a welcomed manner to leave fans yearning for the remaining two albums.
While the album takes time to grow on a listener, ¡Uno! does have worth buried in it. Dedicated fans should give the album time to bloom. Once it does, it will fit nicely in the catalog. While it may never land Dookie spins, the release certainly deserves to be part of the Green Day family.
Review written by: Joshua Hammond