Green Day have succeeded only because they’ve managed to connect with two generations of confused young peeps. The first group comprises of folks who were dismayed at punk’s disintegration in the States after the heady rebellion and creativity brought about by the British invasion of the late 70s. For these people, Dookie and Nimrod are nothing less than heathen demigods of pop punk.
The second, post-Cold War generation, was hooked by the more pop-rock style of Warning, and contributed to the surprising success of American Idiot. These people were often looked down upon by the first group as not being true fans, by referring to Green Day’s music – which by this stage had begun to resemble alt-rock – as “punk”.
But when the rock-opera of 21st Century Breakdown hit the stores in 2009, these two groups had moved on. Green Day needed a new fan base to appeal to, because punk is only sustainable if there’s a constant influx of young people into the fold. (Think about it: how many punk acts can you list that have had massive success for more than 10 years?) However, the current generation of youngsters is one captivated by partying and dancing, and lacks the rebellious tendency that could make them receptive towards punk.
Billie Joe & Co. have obviously realized this, and rather than going the way of Maroon 5 and fully embracing dance-pop (aka selling out), they’ve opted to return to their roots, in the hopes of not only re-engaging their older fan base, but also connecting with a younger audience who want something other than processed dance beats. And let’s face it, there aren’t too many mainstream acts who make this sort of music any more.
#1. Nuclear Family 3:03
#2. Stay The Night 4:37
#3. Carpe Diem 3:26
#4. Let Yourself Go 2:57
#5. Kill The DJ 3:42
#6. Fell For You 3:09
#7. Loss Of Control 3:08
#8. Troublemaker 2:45
#9. Angel Blue 2:47
#10. Sweet 16 3:04
#11. Rusty James 4:09
#12. Oh Love 5:03
Billy Joe Armstrong: Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
Michael “Mike Dirnt” Ryan Pritchard: Bass, Backing Vocals
Frank “Tré Cool” Edwin Wright III: Drums, Percussion
DATE OF RELEASE:
25th September, 2012
Kill The DJ
Let Yourself Go
¡Uno! is simple guitar-driven pop punk, no frills. You won’t find exotic instruments, or novel arrangements, or any fancy elements here. This is, simply put, Green Day at their most basic, fundamental level.
Nuclear Family deals with a topic that is increasingly worrying public policy and government officials: the decline of the traditional two-parent family in America. Just last year, the New York Times published a landmark statistic: single-parent, divorced/separated, and unmarried-parent families now outnumber the traditional two-parent families. This has huge implications for a socio-economic system that is based on that assumption, now that it no longer applies to a majority of Americans. It’s a huge social disorder in the making; a time bomb that could go off 25 years in the future (the track title contains a nice pun regarding this).
Carpe Diem is a tongue-in-cheek number about an ideal that many young people pay lip service to, but rarely stand by in practice. “Live your life to the fullest and seize the moment!” is a great sound bite, but where’s the action to back up those words? Pretty much everyone is more concerned with making money or being successful, than following their dreams or fighting for a cause.
The 60s and 70s saw great youth activism: from civil rights, feminism, homosexuality, and Vietnam anti-war propaganda… no stone was left unturned. But today, all we have is the lame Occupy Wall Street, which has more participants aged 30 plus than actual young people. If you were still wondering why punk is dead, this is it. Yes sir, I am part of an apathetic generation, and I refuse to apologize for it.
Deep social issues aside, there’s the usual fare of love-related stuff (Stay The Night, Fell For You, Angel Blue) which frankly we’ve all heard before. Falling in love… isn’t it strange that Green Day can rehash the same statements they made 20 years ago? Soon they’ll become granddads and we’ll still be hearing about how great falling in love for the first time is.
Barring a couple of dreadful tracks – Kill The DJ, I’m looking at you – the boys have turned in a decent record. Sure, the endless train of 3-minute pop punk tunes does get a little boring after a while. It doesn’t help that all chords are in major key, or that Armstrong’s guitar tone/distortion doesn’t vary at all, or that Cool’s drumming remains stubbornly same throughout, or that nothing apart from a guitar, bass, and a drum set are used in this album. (Well, there’s just a hint of organ near the beginning of closer Oh Love, but it’s quickly drowned out by a guitar reverb.)
Actually, that last bit is pretty impressive. When was the last time you bought an album with no keyboard or string arrangements? Exactly. ¡Uno! is basically three guys jamming together, and I think that was their intention: to make a record they could play live in one go, with no breaks or instrument changes in between.