At the turn of the millennium Green Day took their first tentative steps towards a newfound sense of despondent maturity, showcasing marginally increased ambition on their sixth album Warning. Despite this, few would have predicted that by the end of the next decade the So-Cal slackers would have become the biggest band in the world; releasing a fully-fledged concept album, the defining anti-Bush anthem, and their own preposterous rock opera in the process. Suddenly a serious proposition, no one batted an eyelid when Billie Joe Armstrong confirmed that Green Day would follow in The Clash’s footsteps by releasing a triple album.
Divided into three separate releases (¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tre!), the first instalment (¡Uno!) provides a genuine shock. It’s a typical Green Day record. The type of album the trio would have created two decades ago. The now 40-year-old globetrotters appear to have regressed back into their teenage-selves. ¡Uno! is a hell of a lot of fun, and shockingly inconsequential. All the pomposity and lofty ideals of 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot have drained away, and in their place is a burbling frustrated energy that yearns to dance and scream “Carpe Diem”.
The album has a wonderfully tossed off feel, as if these pointed pop gems are all entirely improvised. The pace is so quick, and the hooks so sweet, that the band appear to get carried away, as Billie Joe leaves in a stray “Aaaaaay-Oooooh” on “Stay The Night”. If Green Day weren’t such shrewd operators the entire concept would appear perverse: a 40-year-old man writing about sitting nervously at home, dreaming of making out with his teenage sweetheart, really?
At this point in their career Green Day hardly need to prove that they can write the best stadium sized punk-pop in the business. No one channels The Clash into obnoxious sun soaked anthems for teen-America better than Billie, Tre, and Mike. Causing havoc and telling disenfranchised teenage princesses that they’re the one is ¡Uno!‘s main pre-occupation. Outside of the juvenile subject matter the tracks rarely surprise. The marching funk of “Kill The DJ” is a nice curveball, but practically every other track goes about its business in a punchy but predictable fashion.
Even as they try to reconnect with their inner-teens Green Day can’t help but let their façade slip. Lead singles “Oh Love” and “Stay The Night” (along with beachside lament “Sweet 16”) are carefully constructed for the stadiums, exposing these supposedly angsty upstarts to be seasoned§ campaigners, rather than bedroom dreamers. ¡Uno! is a bizarre concept, and an even stranger case; a flawless album of perfectly judged teenage pop that breezes by in an instant, leaving no discernable impression - let alone a lasting imprint.
Buy If:you want to hear Green Day do what they used to do best, writing fast pop-punk for alienated teens.
Skip If:You were looking for the mature themes and grand concepts of American Idiot.
Best Track:“Nuclear Family”
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