Where do a bunch of 40-year-old Californian cartoon punks go after delivering two mega-selling rock operas? Back to the start is a good idea.
Even with tongues rammed in cheek, Green Day’s recent excursions into concept album territory with 21st Century Breakdown and American Idiot seemed to end in a road block for the world’s most successful punk act. Uno! is the first of three albums to be released between now and January, each one set to show off different sides, and various states of mind, of the trio.
Uno!, Dos!, Tre! may be a form of homage to Green Day’s avowed heroes The Clash and their triple album Sandinista but if that had inevitable flab, this entre to the three-course feast is a short, sharp, shock reversion to gnarly punk pop roots. It's mostly tight, lean, and punchy with only the occasional foray into lightweight pop.
Opener, Nuclear Family makes Green Day’s intentions clear from the first line “I’m gonna ride the world like a merry go round like a Ferris wheel that’s breaking down.” It’s all heads-down riffarama, great drumming from Munsters escapee Tré Cool, and the bass rumble of Mike Dirnt. Green Day spend good parts of Uno! remembering any number of Brit (and Irish) punks of the class of 77/78. The clarion call riff at the start of Stay The Night is classic SLF, while the band’s teen throwbacks are most pure on Troublemaker, a freewheeling rattle concerned with girls and acne-d alienation. When Billie Joe Armstrong sings about being “the last gang in town” on Rusty James you won’t even cringe, which may be more than could be said of some one American Idiot’s more anguished moments.
Uno! Is the start of a Green Day reboot and it’s a glorious one (two, three) fingered salute.