Thursday, 8 November 2012

Review: Green Day - ¡Dos!

 So, if Green Day wanted to leave us on a high in late September following the release of ¡Uno!, the first installment of their three albums of charged up pop punk, they failed pretty hard. As if it wasn't easy enough to take us away from the set of bland pop rock songs and horrendous attempts of being The Rolling Stones, the only thing anyone was talking about is Billie Joe Armstrong's expert way in promoting the album by smashing his guitar up onstage, telling the audience that he's been around since nineteen eighty fucking eight and entering rehab for substance abuse. Good ane!

 However, the show must go on and as Billie Joe continues his tenure in rehab, the album cycle continues with ¡Dos! Even though Green Day have shunned away any concept crafting for these albums there's some metaphorical suggestions that could be made with ¡Uno! That album featured a picture of Billie Joe on the cover. It turned out he was in an awful state and the album is awful. With ¡Dos!, bassist Mike Dirnt is clearly in a much better state of health because this album is a notable step up in quality. Even with the state of irony that opens the album with Billie Joe's overtly upbeat solo opening of See You Tonight to the irony of acoustic closer Amy, a beautifully written tribute to the late soul revivalist Amy Winehouse with Armstrong's sincere lyrics of how he'd like to meet her and be her friend, which looking at Billie Joe now... I guess he did go to rehab.

 But in between these two slices of irony flavoured bread, there is a surprising selection of massive pop punk bangers. Straight from Tré Cool's bold drum beat on Fuck Time the band start throwing serious punches in their their entire pop rock assault and the driving hooks of Stop When the Red Lights Flash and Makeout Party. On guitar, Armstrong obviously constructs the same riff over and over again but somehow gives each song a new sugary coating of freshness and energy and by the time we hit the grooves of Lady Cobra the Green Day mojo that had been drained on ¡Uno! has managed to rush back.

 As well as truly rocking out with this album, Green Day just sound so much more like they're having fun on this collection of songs that doesn't just fall under the pop punk formula. Stray Heart is lushly delivered with the good-boy charisma of Buddy Holly with a swinging melody that you can't really do anything but dance to. Even the more emotion driven songs are perfectly headbang-worthy as the melancholic tone of Lazy Bones is a perfect show of life affirming power pop.

 While a notable step up from it's predecessor, ¡Dos! is still far from being the perfect album that I'm building it up as so far. By the time we get to Wow! That's Loud, I will be impressed if you haven't become frustrated by the constant amount of times that Armstrong notably sounds like he's just doing Iggy Pop impressions in his vocals and once again the time when they try to do something different is largely shoddy. In this case, it's Nightlife which sees the band use a form of songwriting used in the kind of songs that topped the charts in the late 90's and early 00's. A slowly paced seductive club anthem I guess. It's another one of those things Green Day shouldn't try even in their attempts to use this style to project lyrics about the darker sleazier side of partying. But for such a wonderfully upbeat album that spreads a lot of emotion, this is just unpleasant listening.

 With  these exceptional qualities, ¡Dos! actually makes the prospect of three new albums from Green Day finally something worth looking into. The melodies sound sweeter, the riffs sound bigger and the thought put into the songwriting and lyrics seems far more fulfilled. Again, it's no sign of pure perfection from Green Day and there are a good amount of moments where the quality slips, but when considering the state of ¡Uno! and the current state of Billie Joe Armstrong, it's relieving more than anything that pop punk's main inspirations can still deliver the goods at such a late stage into their careers. And if ¡Tré! is able to deliver anything better, we're sorted.

Green Day's ¡Dos! is out on 9th November via Relapse.

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