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“Uno!,” the first in a trilogy of albums coming from Green Day over the next four months, is a thoroughly enjoyable non-stop torpedo blast of catchy melodies, guitar riffs and propulsive drum blasts.
The trio told Billboard recently that in the schematic of the three new albums, “Uno!” was the album to play as you’re getting ready to go to the party. If so, batten down the hatches because it’s going to be a long night.
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Green Day’s punk pop comes wrapped around a lyrical dose of angst and agitation, if not downright vitriol and, despite the upbeat melodies, there’s plenty of venom here. Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics have often sounded like he’s a powder keg one very short, taut fuse away from exploding and that’ feeling is amped up here. On album opener, the rollicking “Nuclear Family,” Armstrong declares, “Like a nuclear bomb, it won’t be long before I detonate.” He mentions detonation again on the syncopated “Carpe Diem.” “Shut your mouth ‘cause you’re talking too much and I don’t give a f*** anyway,” he snarls on “Let Yourself Go,” which, despite the lyrics, is one of the album’s most infectious tracks (and includes Armstrong’s most inspired guitar playing). On “Loss Of Control,” he calls his enemies, “a bunch of shit-talking drama queens and they’re all filled with excuses.” So there.
There’s the now familiar snot-nosed, hyper-speed tracks, such as “Loss Of Control” and “Let Yourself Go,” but “Uno!” also has a number of power pop tunes informed by ‘70s British and American pop that showcase Green Day’s dedication to melody over all.
But sweetness has seldom been part of Green Day’s sonic palette and even when the trio tries its best, it can’t quite lose its edge. On the infectious “Fell For You,” Armstrong sings, “I had a dream that I kissed your lips and it felt it so true/Then I woke up as a nervous wreck and I fell for you.” But first, he tells us that he woke up scared he’d “pissed” himself and that if his lover breaks his heart, he’ll crush her.
Despite singing in a sweeter, fuller register on the poppy, layered “Stay the Night,” Armstrong can’t resist admitting “I’ve got an impulse so repulsive that it burns/I want to break your heart until it makes your stomach churn/I gotta know that you’re the one that got away/even though it was never meant to be.” And, believe it or not, that’s a come on as he asks her to sleep over. Hey, whatever works.
“Kill The DJ,” Armstrong, drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt challenge themselves to work within a dance medium, even though they vow to “shoot that f***er down.” “Troublemaker” also slightly expands the band’s musical view. With a backbeat straight out of a Blur song, as well as a similar swagger and backing vocals, “Troublemaker” mixes in Armstrong’s spoken lyrics, a psychedelic guitar swirl breakdown, and hand claps. It’s one of the group’s busiest songs.
“Uno!” doesn’t have the ambitious reach, story arc or grandiosity of “American Idiot” or “21th Century Breakdown,” but it’s not meant to. Its goal is to get you ready for the next portion of your evening and on that promise, it clearly delivers.