After two epic and lengthy rock operas for their last two albums, Green Day returns to their punk roots with ¡Uno!, the first entry in a trilogy of upcoming albums. However, the band’s ninth album isn’t so different that it will alienate their fan base again; while American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown pushed older fans away in exchange for a younger fan base, ¡Uno! attempts to unite the 70’s kids who listened to Green Day in their teens with the 90’s kids who fell in love with American Idiot. This album calls to mind both the carefree, easy listening joys of Green Days power pop punk origins and the superior song writing and composition of their more recent records. In the end, the result is an album that both audiences can appreciate, making it one of Green Day’s most enjoyable efforts to date. Those looking for another epic, political or serious album from Green Day should look elsewhere, as ¡Uno! represents a return to the same vulgar, lighthearted fun that put this punk band on the map in the first place.
The fast-paced frantic rocker “Let Yourself Go” is one of the band’s proudest moments in boasting the return to their punk rock roots. Simplistic lyrics during the chorus is a recurring trend for ¡Uno!, but the verses are jam-packed with the same vulgarity and teen angst Green Day fans have been missing since American Idiot changed their sound (“I’m sick to death of your every last breath / And I don’t give a f**k anyway”). Billie Joe Armstrong’s lovable Brit-infused vocals steal the spotlight during the verses because of the amusing lyrical content, but Tre Cool’s frenetic drum beat sets a spunky and fun tone, the guitar solos of Armstrong and Jason White are exquisite and lively pieces of punk rock goodness and Mike Dirnt’s groovy bass sees an expanded role not seen since Green Day’s older days. This single represents everything ¡Uno! is about and is the best song on the album.
“Kill The DJ” brings its own unique and foul-mouthed style into the mix with a somewhat repetitive but ultimately enjoyable mainstream dance floor hit. Armstrong’s high-pitched cooing returns for this rhythmic pop punk jingle, but while suave guitars add attitude, Armstrong’s incitations of violence to “shoot that f**king DJ” ironically reflect the dance beat the characterizes this infectious and lyrically simple single.
“Oh Love” immediately grabs a listener’s attention with its initial twangy guitar riff’s before erupting into a punk gem that would be right at home on any of Green Day’s older, beloved albums. Armstrong’s imploring declarations of love command the song as he pleads “Oh love, oh love / Won’t you rain on me tonight? / Oh love, free ride / Won’t you take me close to you?” The guitars and bass are perfectly on point as well in this casual rocker, reflecting the heartfelt but jovial mood that closes the album out on a pleasantly sincere note.
Without the self-imposed strains of political subject matter or the more serious rock opera style, Green Day reminds fans their punk style is about fun first and foremost on ¡Uno!. The lighthearted lyrics, crammed with numerous profanities and vulgar content, will be as endearing to fans as they were so many years ago, while the switch back to the musical style of punk will certainly be appreciated by many who couldn’t appreciate American Idiot. Although this album likely won’t win back all of the disenfranchised punk fans who grew tired of Green Day after they “failed” to live up to Dookie, this ninth record deserves recognition and appreciation for not only returning to the band’s roots, but for doing so successfully. After producing two rock operas, returning to this old formula likely wasn’t easy, and the influences from both time periods in the band’s discography are often mixed together, which makes it so easy to like for both new and old followers. Fans of Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Franz Ferdinand, Sum 41, Foxboro Hottubs, The Offspring, U2 and Fall Out Boy should enjoy ¡Uno! for its easygoing fun, frequent guitar chugging, overall frenzied pace, and comparatively simpler topics. From the opening notes of the excited opening rocker “Nuclear Family,” it’s clear that Green Day is back to traditional form, which might not garner older fans’ attention at first, but should win back their support at this trilogy progresses.
Final Score: 8.4/10
Rank: 3rd (eleven total albums)
- Nuclear Family
- Stay The Night
- Carpe Diem
- Let Yourself Go
- Kill The DJ
- Fell For You
- Loss Of Control
- Angel Blue
- Sweet 16
- Rusty James
- Oh Love