Green Day | Uno! | Rating: 8/11 | Reviewed by: Kilby Shepard |
Green Day has gone from Berkeley, CA gutter punks to stadium-filling activists to Broadway and now they’re back with Uno!, the first in a trilogy of new studio releases. Recorded from February to June 2012, Billie Joe stated in a prior interview that the band ditched the idea of a double album, instead, opting for a trilogy inspired by Van Halen’s Van Halen I, Van Halen II and Van Halen III. Long-time fans will welcome back Rob Cavallo at the production helm of the new songs.
Uno! starts off with Tre Cool’s kick drum on “Nuclear Family” – nothing is held back in the mix. It’s all out front and in your ear buds Ð every cymbal crash, grand chorus, melody and major chord. “Stay the Night” is rock-n-roll kin to the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” And just as Jagger wanted to spend the night together because he needed you more than ever, Billie Joe pleads, “Stay the night / I don’t wanna say goodbye.”
The record goes from pop punk to pop funk on “Kill the DJ.” It’s a Red Hot Chili Peppers-style mid-tempo strut about walking through New York City. The song’s style and dance floor pace throws the record off track a bit, but the band gets back on familiar territory with “Fell for You,” which finds Billie Joe picking up years later where he left off as the lovelorn teen alone in his bedroom staring at the walls on Kerplunk’s “2,000 Light Years Away.” Against a saccharine sweet melody, he sings on “Fell for You,” “I had a dream that I kissed your lips and it felt so true.”
The Cheap Trick-inspired “Let Yourself Go” is one of Uno!‘s shorter songs. Its opening guitar and snare mirrors the opening track of Live at Budokan without the cacophony of screaming Japanese girls. The guitars jangle and Billie Joe raises his voice an octave on “Sweet 16,” which sounds sunny and beach-ready.
“Carpe Diem,” “Loss of Control” and “Troublemaker” are fine songs, but they would sound more at home on 2000’s Warning. Uno!‘s highlight is the five-minute plus “Oh Love.” A simple strummed and muted guitar chord serves as the “Oh Love” hook while Billie Joe proves his staying power as one of rock’s most enduring and authoritative lead vocalists.
As a band, Green Day have everything, but on Uno! they sing about needing something… a girl, a mended heart, a new scene. Fans since might be disappointed in a lack of political and social outrage on this record. Others might see Uno! as disingenuous and a lack of progression in that it’s middle aged married men with kids singing about being young and lovesick. Both are fair criticisms if you judge this record on its own, but there’s still two more records to come of this trilogy. Stay tuned between now and early 2013.