The advent of the 21st Century saw Green Day radically expanding their horizons. Multi-facet concept albums, rock operas, and generation defining anthems of political rebellion quickly became the band’s new modus operandi. So when Billie Joe announced a trilogy of LPs were on the way, few eyebrows were raised. It’s Green Day, broad thematic sweeps come with the territory.
Given the band’s current direction of travel, ¡Uno! should provide a shock. It’s a traditional Green Day record. The type of album the now 40-year-old punks would have made two decades ago. Full of anxiety and rebellion, ¡Uno! sees Green Day offering up the kind of pristine Californian post-Clash pop perfect for adolescent heartache. Billie Joe nervously dreams about making out with his moody teenage princess as he strives to cause trouble and scream “Carpe Diem”. If Green Day weren’t so harrowingly proficient in their pop, the whole concept would read like perverse midlife identity crisis.
Predictable in the extreme, the album flies by at a frightful pace making ¡Uno! one of the easiest and most engaging releases of the year. This is Green Day’s equivalent of comfort food – they could make this record in their sleep. “Nuclear Family” and “Rustie James” are snappy and to the point without leaving any kind of lasting impression or threatening to engage brain cells. For all the carefree endeavor and three-chord brinkmanship on display, Green Day can’t fully embrace their youth. ¡Uno! is the product of shrewd stadium sized operators. Tender ballad “Sweet 16”, as well as lead singles “Stay The Night” and “Oh Love”, are sweeping anthems that play to the very back row, while the infectious walking funk of “Kill The DJ” proves to be a sly red-hearing. Experimentation isn’t the order of the day; this is swift, simple and highly enjoyable pop music. ¡Uno!: as pleasurable as it is inconsequential. David Hayter