When Green Day erupted onto the music scene in 1994 with Dookie, a punk-pop revolution began that turned straight-laced suburban kids into pseudo-punk moshers with non-conformist agendas. Dookie quickly became the angst-laden, fast-paced, three-chord anthem for teenagers in the ’90s.
Since the success of Dookie, Green Day has been forced to reinvent its sound to stake claim to its longevity. The band’s most recent studio effort comes in the form of an album trilogy—Uno, Dos and Tré — released over the past few months.
The first installment, Uno, is riddled with ’90s throwback moments in songs like “Nuclear Family,” “Let Yourself Go” and “Angel Blue.” “Carpe Diem” and “Oh Love” stand out as the catchiest tracks that will likely become concert sing-alongs. Despite the band’s overuse of black eyeliner, “Kill the DJ” comes off as too glam-rock, making this track one to skip. On a high note, Uno makes a good run at reproducing some of that old Green Day sound that 30-somethings are longing to hear again.
Dos appears to be the experimental album of the collection, where the band slows the pace and mingles genres. Although the opening track, “See You Tonight,” is a sweet and quiet guitar-centric song with harmonies, it doesn’t set the album’s tone — listeners beware. The album is mainly weighed down by oversexed tracks like “F*** Time,” “Stop When the Red Light Flashes” and “Makeout Party.” Dos appears to be the weak link in the trilogy chain.
The final installment, Tré, may appeal to fans that coveted Green Day’s rock opera American Idiot (2004). Like Dos, the pace is slower, but this time it feels like singer Billie Joe Armstrong is projecting to an audience of lost teenage souls. What it lacks in story line, it makes up in message with songs like “Brutal Love,” “X-kid” and “The Forgotten,” which collectively feel like the soundtrack to youth. “Dirty Rotten Bastards” is more energized and serves as the album’s revolutionary “fist-in-the-air” tune. This album may be the best of the three, despite the overall lack of punk.
With this trilogy, Green Day departs from the political defiance that marked its music over the past decade, and returns to its roots — singing about sex, drugs and slacker love. While most tracks are fun and upbeat, the band never quite seems to catch up to the urgency of its early albums, leaving listeners feeling a bit sluggish. There are too few Tré Cool drum rolls and Armstrong’s lyrics are way too coherent. What happened to the Green Day of yesterday, where mumbled lyrics were a mystery and excessive air drumming on the dashboard at stoplights was the norm?
Overall, this trilogy seems a bit gimmicky. Listening to all three albums is like going to a seafood joint, ordering crab cakes and getting a few lumps of crab with a lot of filler. Without all of the filler, Green Day could have released one album with a dozen quality songs.
A bit of advice: Listen to the songs, pick your favorites, buy them separately and create your own playlist.