Californian punks’ ninth LP confirms their status as one of the world’s finest bands.
Ian Winwood 2012-09-21
With their last eight years occupied by the grand projects of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, the notion that Green Day are a band whose musical character is informed by a sense of creative courage is no longer new.
One of the most fascinating things about ¡Uno!, though, is just how deftly its authors have managed to secure for themselves fresh ground on which to operate. Not least because, with this tight and melodically claustrophobic album, it seems that no space actually exists.
Not everything contained within is of the highest order, mind. Billie Joe Armstrong’s Iggy Pop-style drawl on Troublemaker lends a rather mannered quality to his usually impeccable sense of vocal-phrasing, and Carpe Diem is a little too reminiscent one of the authors’ earlier songs, 1997’s Suffocate.
Elsewhere though, this is a work of masterfully controlled music. ¡Uno! manages to feature both a dance track (Kill the DJ) and a quite stunning closing song (Oh Love) that hints at Celtic balladry fashioned precisely in Green Day’s image.
Just as captivating is Armstrong’s sense of lyrical finesse, particularly his ability to transform from a man capable of expressing unconditional love while, in the song, becoming the kind of “son of a bitch and Edgar Allen Poe” featured in American Idiot. The latter characters, or character traits, are particularly delicious.
On the pummelling Loss of Control, the singer warns that he’s “taking down all his enemies ‘cause they’re all so f***ing useless / A bunch of s***-talking drama queens who are all filled with excuses.” Two songs later, on the sexually charged Angel Blue, the man with the microphone is telling someone he desires to be his “bloody valentine”. Bloody how, exactly?
This question and more are posed by this fascinating work, a release that demands of the listener the care and attention afforded it by its creators. Free from grandly theatrical flourishes that were threatening to become things of creative captivity, ¡Uno!’s graceful manoeuvres confirm Green Day’s status as one of the world’s finest rock’n’roll bands.