On the politically charged concept albums that resurrected Green Day’s career, Billie Joe Armstrong struck a rich vein of Beatlesque melody that few believed he had left in him. But the true significance of American Idiot and its sound-alike follow-up, 21st Century Breakdown, was contained in Green Day’s elevation of the simplistic pop-punk genre into an artful tool for the release of pent-up angst.
The political themes lent considerable focus and thematic weight to Armstrong’s songwriting, but those core elements are conspicuously absent from the hodgepodge of tracks on ¡UNO!. If this first disc is any indication, the band’s planned three-part series seems doomed to be bogged down by regressively immature angst (“Kill the DJ,” “Let Yourself Go”) and mundane takes on old-time power-pop (“Oh Love,” “Fell for You”). Only a select few of the deeper cuts contain the crunchy yet hummable tunes we’ve learned to take for granted from the Bay Area legends.
Time will tell, of course, but it’s hard to imagine the trilogy’s second and third instalments turning out much better.
Playlist picks: “Rusty James,” “Stay the Night”