I've written about Green Day's
upcoming album Uno
a few times now. The band is known for teasing their audience, so we've been getting looks and listens all summer. As August comes to a close, Green Day has released a good third of the album. Not to say that an entire record can be defined by just a few songs, but in the case of Uno
the songs raise more alarm than inquiry. As accomplished as they are, Green Day still has to prove themselves with the trilogy. Their last record 21st Century Breakdown
wasn't their best work and left a lot of people questioning where the band was going with their music. These new songs range in sound and style, giving no definite heading as far as what to expect come September 24th. Here's an examination of those first five songs and what they may mean for the future.
First out of the gate was "Oh Love"
. The over-simplified love song sounds a little by the numbers and brings little to the table. Meant to be the bands return to songs about relationship rather than political tensions, there are no mentions of government, allusions to war or references to anything vaguely political. This is perhaps "Oh Love's" only redeeming quality. Otherwise it is somewhat bland. The song was accompanied by a 3D lyric video (because we all have 3D-glasses laying around the house?) and then an actual music video. In my mind, the two videos remain neck-to-neck as far as awkward and ill-fitting to the Green Day name. All in all, "Oh Love" is a well-timed summer-y tune that manages to be just catchy enough to pass.
The next song, "Let Yourself Go"
, was recorded live at a small venue in Texas and looks/feels/sounds like a proper Green Day release. The video features Billie Joe sporting a mess of bleach blonde hair, Mike Dirnt bouncing around stage and Tre Cool effortlessly smashing away at the drums; their entire performance is reminiscent of their younger years as Oakland punks. As far as the lyrics are concerned, the song is 90% "let yourself go", 10% indecipherable grumbling, cursing and yelling, which sounds just about right to me. The track lives up to the band's promise of writing another punk record.
Then "Kill the DJ"
found its way on to the internet. Instantly it fails to fit in with the previously released tracks or with any other Green Day song really. Green Day needs to never go back to wherever this faux-Franz Ferdinand song came from again. It's another "fun" song, like "Oh Love", that fails to impress. One theory is the released version is a clean cut and the actual unedited song will prove to be more inappropriate, and appropriately so. In their defense, most bands have some song in which they bring bodily harm to the "DJ" character. Green Day just chose way late in their career to down said DJ in this mix of auto-tune and dance rock. Let's hope they got it all out of their system and we don't see any more of this particular sound on the album.
was released in conjunction with the Green Day themed Angry Birds app. Another reassuring track, it falls closer to Dookie-era Green Day. A fast-paced jumble, "Troublemaker" sounds like "All the Time" with a hint of "Walking Contradiction". It strays close to repetitive and lacks something of an edge, but again this is punk isn't it? Pop-punk even. It doesn't have the deepest lyrics, but no one is expecting another "Macy's Day Parade". They're not waxing poetic, they're playing punk. Furthermore what "Troublemaker" lacks in depth, it make up for in detail. In the style of "In the End" or "Homecoming", Billie paints a precise picture of his characters, real or not.
Finally we have "Stay the Night" from Green Day's performance at the Reading Festival. The live setting doesn't seem to hamper their sound too much (as we saw with "Let Yourself Go") and the video quality assures that what we hear will be pretty close to what the album will sound like. Their show that night included a healthy selection of Dookie
, as promised, as well as other hit songs. Along with "Oh Love", Green Day premiered "Stay the Night" which on first listen sounds almost like Kerplunk
. Possibly even Insomniac
, a la "Green Stick Breath". Lyrically "Stay the Night" straddles the line between the personal and the third person, seeming to be written for the style rather than the lyrics.
Overall, I approach the upcoming flood of Green Day records with guarded optimism. Songs like "Stay the Night" are signs that Green Day is returning to a previous sound, whilst "Kill the DJ" imply that they may swerve off into part truly unknown. As glad as I am to hear some of their older work come through in these new songs, I wonder if the songs are going to come together to form an album. Here's the track listing in full, I wonder what the rest is going to sound like.
01. Nuclear Family
02. Stay The Night
03. Carpe Diem
04. Let Yourself Go
05. Kill The DJ
06. Fell For You
07. Loss Of Control
09. Angel Blue
10. Sweet 16
11. Rusty James
12. Oh Love