Green Day is pretty punk on ¡Uno!
You know what the most adorable thing about Billie Joe Armstrong is? Is it the fact that at the age of 40 he resembles an angry toddler in guyliner? Nah, that’s just a bonus. What’s really cute is that he still seems to think he’s a punk rocker, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Whether Green Day’s pop-songs-plus-power-chords formula counts as punk or not has been debated hotly—and, let’s face it, pointlessly—since before the band even signed to a major label and sold a kajillion CDs. (Remember those?) I’m not going to touch that one, but the fact is that, for a guy who has been a part of the corporate entertainment machine for nigh on two decades and has a Tony Award–winning Broadway musical under his belt, Armstrong retains a surprising propensity for acting like a petulant teenager who just found out about the Sex Pistols.
Case in point: on September 22, Green Day’s performance at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas ended abruptly with an expletive-peppered rant from the singer, who then smashed his Gibson SG and stormed off. Seems he was indignant about having his band’s set cut short, and he blew a fuse, because, you know, that’s the punk-rock thing to do. Just like how getting paid by Clear Channel to appear on the same bill as Usher, Taylor Swift, and Enrique Iglesias is totally fucking hardcore. He was reportedly pissed out of his gourd at the time, and he did check into rehab the next day, so whether that earns him some slack is up to you.
In any event, this all happened just in time to get Armstrong and his band in the news right before the release of their latest album, ¡Uno!, which is the first of a trilogy. This is Green Day in its most back-to-basics form. The likes of “Nuclear Family” and “Let Yourself Go” are built on a foundation of Armstrong’s signature pop-punk hooks, surging chords, and admittedly pretty awe-inspiring drum-pounding thunder courtesy of Tré Cool.
That’s all pretty okay, if a little generic and a lot forgettable. The trio deviates from the blueprint for the funk-reggae workout “Kill the DJ”, which, although the title calls to mind the Smiths’ “Panic”, sounds more like a juiced-up companion piece to 10cc’s “Dreadlock Holiday”. Against all odds, it kind of works. The single “Oh Love”, meanwhile, is a made-for-stadiums heartland-rock number with an irresistible, sea chantey–esque chorus.
Much of ¡Uno!, though, will have you saying “I know I’ve heard this before, but I can’t remember where.” Maybe Armstrong will ’fess up to his sources, once he gets out of rehab. Then again, unapologetic thievery is pretty punk rock, no?