Before I hit that wonderful adolescent age where all I wanted to listen to was punk, god awful nu-metal, and the industrial gothic bands made popular in the late 90’s, I was just a regular 11-year-old kid jamming to Dookie. Green Day had already hit the mainstream by then of course, thanks to the heavy rotation of “Longview” and “Basket Case” on MTV, making punk rock accessible to impressionable kids such as myself. Throughout their twenty five years, Green Day has managed to consistently recycle their sound to appeal to new generations as the previous ones grew up and moved on.
Despite Green Day’s punk influences, I never considered them much of an actual punk band – the closest they have come to a raw, unhinged sound was in their debut, 39/Smooth. The band’s latest efforts, a trilogy of records called Uno, Dos, and Tre respectively, is an interesting, albeit unwarranted, concept given the declining sale of records, the lack of diversity in Green Day’s music, and the short attention spans of youth in general. Then again, who would have thought a Broadway musical based on American Idiot would turn out to be a successful venture? Clearly, Green Day are entrepreneurs, so who am I to question their business decisions – especially when they claimed they are going “epic as fuck”? Unfortunately, Uno, Dos, and Tre are anything but grand.
The first installment, Uno, was released in September, and contains the same basic format you would expect of a Green Day album: power pop hooks and infectious, repetitive choruses. Half the time Billie Joel Armstrong sounds as if he is just phoning in his vocals – “someone kill the DJ/shoot the fucking DJ,” he sings indifferently in the predictably titled song “Kill The DJ.” The problem with Uno is the punk rock is lacking – the sound is too clean and overtly polished. The result is a bland, 41 minute snoozefest in which tracks cannot be distinguished from one another. Songs like “Angel Blue” are too pop-oriented with short, 4-line verses, and is best suited for background noise. I would be hard pressed to select anything that actually stands out here, but if I had to decide, I lean towards “Let Yourself Go”, a song that could easily substitute as a bonus track from Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American.
Luckily, Dos picks up the pace considerably. Released in November, the follow-up opens with a quick, one minute ballad, “See You Tonight” before it bleeds right into “Fuck Time,” which is probably the closest to their old-school punk rock roots Green Day has sounded in years. Because of this, Dos is a much more interesting record than its predecessor, both lyrically and production-wise. The “garage-rock” atmosphere that the band wanted to convey on the album is apparent throughout, evidenced by party-like anthems such as “Makeout Party” and their signature catchy hooks in “Lady Cobra.”
Green Day completed the series when they released Tre in December. Armstrong has described Tre as a mixed bag, and he’s right. While not terribly tedious like Uno, it lacks the energy of Dos. Whether it’s the predictable three chord riffs the band loves oh so much, displayed in songs like “Amanda” or mellow, forgettable tracks like “Brutal Love” Tre is both listless and bizarre simultaneously. It is not all bad though – “99 Revolutions” begins with simple drums and ends with a little more ferocity.
There are very few bands in the world who have so much talent and creativity to spread around that they could justify releasing three albums in such a short time frame – Green Day is obviously not one of them. But if you have been with the band since their darker, indie punk Kerplunk days or you’re still at that young age where Green Day’s music appeals to you, this trilogy will probably suit you just fine.