It’s hard to imagine a band that has been as influential on the music scene as Green Day. They found themselves under the spotlight in 1994 with their album Dookie, showing a different face of alternative rock, as opposed to Nirvana’s darker approach. They never topped those commercial heights with later albums, but their music soaked up many influences into their pop-punk footprint, setting the band in a league apart. In 2004 the band re-invented itself with the massive, influential punk rock opera American Idiot.
After this second shot at mainstream success, Green Day is giving me the impression of a band that is trying too hard to stay on top.
The overly ambitious 21st Century Breakdown, their 2009 follow-up, was a record that brought the punk-rock opera concept to an extreme, but lacked the strength and creative vision of the earlier effort, almost to the point of self-parody.
In 2012, the band is back with an even more ambitious project: a trilogy of albums, entitled ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tre!.
The idea behind this trilogy is apparently to let go of politics and operas, focusing on a live-fast-die-young, voyeuristic attitude, musically translated by adding elements of sleaze / garage rock to what closely reminds of their Dookie / Insomniac era sound.
The idea sounds interesting and refreshing, but sadly the first chapter ¡Uno! leaves me with a foul taste of mediocrity. The first couple of songs Nuclear Family and Stay the night are fun to listen to and well written, but it’s all down-hill from there. Every song has got a spark that makes you hope for something great to happen, but then all is killed by flat arrangements full of cliches. Yes, punk rock is what it is, but in this case, everything sounds way too rehearsed and de-personalized. And the lyrics? insincere, as if the band was deliberately writing for their teenage fan-base rather than for themselves.
When the band really tries out something new, the results are pretty sketchy: In the words of NME’S Barry Nicolson “Kill The DJ sounds like 40-year-old millionaires attempting to recreate a sound they’ve mistaken for being edgy”, while Oh Love fails to complement a great intro and verse with a dynamic chorus, recurring to an inconclusive, goofy-epic anthem instead.
In my opinion, this record is mediocre, but still better than the earlier 21st Century Breakdown. I just hope this trilogy will represent the band’s first step towards finding their own voice again.
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