Welcome to the first entry in a three-part review. Yes, that’s right, you’re getting three posts for just one topic!
Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. After such a very long time, I’ve decided to go ahead and review Green Day’s ¡Trilogy! I had actually left the task open for a certain other blogger on this site, but… well… he’s more our sports and news analyst these days.
Which is totally fine with me. It got us Freshly Pressed a few months back, it brings some variety to the site, and most importantly, it lets me tackle the refreshingly daunting task of reviewing the 37 track epic.
So without further ado, and in my customary track-by-track format, I give you ¡Uno!
1. “Nuclear Family” — This is Green Day at their finest. Classic screaming guitars, pulse-pounding drums, and a killer vocal performance with standard, suitably jaded lyrics. There’s the familiar trade-off of vocals and guitars during the verses, which sharp-eared fans will recognize from tracks such as “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia.” Actually, come to think of it, the whole song kind of resembles “American Idiot,” but with a more complex solo and an extra verse afterwards. The countdown at the end of the song is both energetic and suspenseful as it launches you into the rest of the album.
2. “Stay the Night” — The guitar-only intro is a bit jarring after the up tempo end of the “Nuclear Family,” but once the track picks up, it feels like a modernized version of a song from the Warning era. And then you get to the chorus, which nagged at me for months until I realized why I’d heard it before — it’s a straight rip off of the melody from Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” Like, seriously, “Say you’ll stay the night,” is a note-for-note copy of Billy Joel’s “whoa-oh-oh-oh…” Thievery aside, it’s a pretty strong, if repetitive, track. Though it does feel a bit like they didn’t know how to end it.
3. “Carpe Diem” — Another track with the vocals/guitar trade-off. Fortunately, Tré’s drumming keeps the technique from becoming too boring or played out. I’m pretty sure the chord progression is recycled, too, possibly from “Nuclear Family.” The chorus again hearkens back to classic Green Day, revolving more on themes of teenage angst (for which Armstrong is much too old) than on the politically charged themes of Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Which is fine, I’m totally cool with the shift back to less political music. But the teen rebellion stuff is a little bit old for these guys, regardless of how maturely they can pull it off.
4. “Let Yourself Go” — This one is fun. It’s hard-hitting and bitingly sardonic. The drums are loud, hard, and fast, the guitars are screaming, and there’s a sick solo. Does it sound like Armstong is ranting like a crazy man? Yes. Is it glorious, pure punk awesomeness? Hell yes. Does Billy Joe Armstrong care? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t ‘give a fuck anyway.” Anyway, can’t we all afford to let ourselves go a bit?
5. “Kill the DJ” — Easily the strangest track, lyrically, but also a whole lot of fun. The drums and guitars give a nice solid beat supplemented nicely by Dirnt’s bass licks. I’m not sure if this was a commentary on the state of modern music or just quite literally a plea for someone to take out the awful DJs that plague school dances, company parties, and nightclubs everywhere, but regardless it works. Plus there’s possibly the funniest lines in punk rock EVER. I offer for your amusement: “Voices in my head are saying ‘Shoot that fucker down.'” Not good enough? Try this beauty on for size: “Hold him under water ’till the motherfucker drowns!” Schizophrenic death threats at their finest, ladies and gentlemen.
6. “Fell for You” — A pretty basic love song that opens with some raucous (but not bad or off-key or anything) pitch bends. Oh, and the line “I woke up in a pool of sweat/At first I thought that I pissed the bed.” Oh… how… uh… romantic? Weird assumptions of bed-wetting aside, the song is cute enough, though not the best love song in the trilogy — or even on ¡Uno! itself, for that matter. But still solid nonetheless. There’s nice drum fill after the second chorus. It’s short and simple, but it breaks the song up very smoothly before the final chorus.
7. “Loss of Control” — I dunno, guys, the little “scream” that Armstrong starts the song with feels pretty controlled to me. I honestly would’ve liked to see them take the title a little more literally and just go fucking bonkers with it. But even though the tempo is pretty fast, that’s never been anything to Tré — he thrives on playing inhumanly fast beats. It is pretty clear, however, that Armstrong went nuts with the lyrics — they make no sense. “April fool!/Thought you were fallin’ in love/Then you’re suckin’ on a doorknob and it’s slammed in your face!” and “Life’s a cruel, crushing bastard crime,” are just not very good examples of understandable English. I will say, however, that the solo may be some of Armstrong’s finest guitar work. It’s definitely the most complex I can recall him playing.
8. “Troublemaker” — This one’s pretty bizarre. I mean, the vocals definitely go a long way to get the sleaze factor the song is definitely trying for. I will never understand how in the hell Armstrong managed to get the line “BM-Excellent tits” into a song, though. Like, did he write the lyrics around it? Where in the hell did it even come from?
9. “Angel Blue” — Lyrically I’m not sure I know what he’s going for here, but the song itself is fun. Ok, it’s generically Green Day, with the vocal/guitar trades and the intro hook that plays between the end of the chorus and start of the verse, and the strumming patterns are pretty common as far as Green Day is concerned. But there’s a pretty robust solo, and some excellent drum work. Really, Tré’s drums drive a lot of the songs, but especially this one.
10. “Sweet Sixteen” — Ok, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. Sure, it’s pretty bland musically — a chord progression, a generic Green Day style strumming pattern, not even really any crazy drums or anything. But lyrically, it’s one of the best. Armstrong met his wife at 16 and they’ve been together ever since. It’s such a sweet song, about their past and their present and eternal love and all that… ok, it’s super sappy, especially for Green Day, but hey, what do you want? At the core, this punk rock blogger is just a big ol’ softie. And love or not, we can all learn something here: “Old days are fine/But are left so far behind.”
11. “Rusty James” — Maybe a callback to Armstrong’s partying days, or maybe just a callback to the past in general, there’s a definite image here. I’m reminded of high school reunions of people who used to be greasers and gang members and stuff, and how much everything changed, but also stayed the same. Musically it’s not super special, though it does stand out with some pretty interesting guitar work, with some nice build-ups as well as excellent usage of palm-mutes. Drums are pretty standard here, but Dirnt’s back-up vocals actually come through and blend really well, a beautiful effect that we’ll be seeing more of in later posts. And the solo is simple but really very effective. Overall the whole song makes me nostalgic for a time I never even experienced. Or maybe just nostalgic for my own youth… well, younger-youth, anyway.
12. “Oh, Love” — This one was the lead single for the album, and quite honestly may be the weakest. It’s not a bad song, by any means. And it actually ends the album very well as a sort of winding down from the chaos of the earlier tracks. It’s not a soft song, but it’s just a standard rock song. There’s some play with dynamics, a bit more of the vocal/guitar trading, all that. But it’s a pretty straight forward song. Personally I think “Sweet Sixteen” would have been a more effective lead single. It’s much more radio friendly, thematically, although “Oh, Love” is also about, well, love. Just, not the same way. It’s more like looking for love, while radio tends to skew towards found love.
So there you have it. I got all the albums within a couple of days of their individual releases and I’ve been living with and listening to them ever since. I mean, not constantly, I’ve listened to other music… you get the point. This is really an honest opinion here with a lot of time and thought behind it. So like, subscribe, comment, share, follow on Facebook (facebook.com/1331blog), you know the drill. See you in a couple of days as I continue my three-part review!