Monday, 24 September 2012

Review: Green Day - ¡Uno!

 So, I guess my review of this album is coming in the middle of a time when when hysteria is surrounding everything except the music. As I discovered thanks to NME, last night, modern rock icon (whether you want to view him in such a manner or not) Billie Joe Armstrong has checked into rehab following what has essentially been one of the finest summers his band Green Day have ever experienced. It's not something I've talked about, but Green Day have some how managed to prove how loved a band they really are even though everyone on the internet hates their guts. From the overwhelming response to the announcement that the band are releasing three new albums over a period of the next few months, (And I was not one of the people to display positivity because, what else can they do for one album, never mind three?) to the frantic cheers that came with their "secret" appearance at this year's Reading Festival, they've managed to really prove their worth somehow in recent times. Until three days ago, I suppose after Armstrong had something resembling an onstage meltdown during the band's performance at iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, after Green Day's set was supposedly cut short, resulting in Armstrong's foul mouthed tirade and smashing of guitars onstage. While tragic to watch after discovering he's gone to rehab for substance abuse, the video's actually worth watching for some tragically humorous reason. Because, for me, his onstage flip out has become the only thing that has made me excited about listening to the first part of this album trilogy, so let's look in to the album with the photo of everyone's new favourite (or not) drug abuser on it, ¡Uno!

 The people who live on comment boards are already writhing around in their negative thoughts about Armstrong's meltdown and the number one point is that it's all served as a publicity stunt for ¡Uno! and really, when considering the overall performance across the album, a major publicity stunt is the only thing that could possibly help this album gain any attention. The music itself is certainly incapable of such a task. And I confidently say that as someone that loves Green Day's earlier work, was captivated when hearing American Idiot as the age of nine and was even naive enough to think that 21st Century Breakdown was a highly successful follow up. But when I raised the point that I didn't know what else the band could do to stay fresh across three albums, I never realised just how valid my point was.

 As Nuclear Family opens the album with Armstrong slamming out some massive pop punk riffs, you can identify the size, the style and desire to rock out with some cool pop punk tunes, for the sake of rocking out to cool pop punk tune but you can't identify any real sense of ambition, any sense of passion or any real reason for you to stick on to the album. And that's the first song in kids!

 The basic nature of ¡Uno! really doesn't leave you with any sort of enlightenment of what Green Day are capable of and across the likes of Stay the Night, Carpe Diem and Sweet 16 and there's nothing at all to pick up upon, just some breezy melodies, some breezy melodies that are nothing but pleasant. Pleasant rock songs from a band that are supposed to be the voice of a generation. I'm really left questioning why people put them on par with the Foo Fighters as the best rock band of our generation.

 Obviously, it wouldn't be in Green Day's nature to stick to one basic style and the big talking point comes in the form of single Kill the DJ, that sees the band attempt to recreate the rock and roll swagger one may have heard in something like The Rolling Stones' Miss You. But the overall result is a total disgrace to the concept of making a song that swaggers, that feels like a drill being grinded through your ears with every conceited call of "Someone kill the DJ/ Kill the fucking DJ" that sounds as immature, annoying and backwards as the extent to which the band's attempts to do something different comes of as tiresome and painful.

 Now, it must be said that amongst this landfill of pop punk there are some gems to be found. When the band do actually attempt to be bold in their performance, they result with songs like Let Yourself Go's adrenaline packed riffs with fiery melodies and the bold closing of Oh Love which carries a sense of the ambition which is what made their recent concept albums so enjoyable, which as we know is what they're desperately stating they want to back away from for these three albums.

 In recent times, Green Day actually prove themselves to be a great band due to ditching basic pop punk and building up a greater intelligence, spreading cool ideas and using their three cord riffs in a context that no other band could rip off and sounding wholly original. Now that they want to step down from such a reputable position, ¡Uno! really does sound like a band in regression, doing their best to wean away any respect they gained for their more mature material and going back unable to match the standards of Dookie and Nimrod. So, with all the hope that Billie Joe Armstrong can make it successfully through rehab and can try and pass the criticism that has come with recent events, there's no denying that him and Green Day are not at their biggest strength musically. And with that, one album down, two to go!

Green Day's ¡Uno! is out now via Reprise.

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