Released at the same time as Billie Joe Armstrong’s actual 21st Century Breakdown in rehab, ‘Uno!’ has been generally well received by music critics. The first instalment of their three-part opus has been welcomed as a return to a band more reminiscent of the Green Day pre-‘American Idiot’.
Beginning with ‘Nuclear Family’ which reminded me of ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’, ‘Uno!’ has elements of the same fast-paced punk songs seen in the older albums, proving that Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt are still more than capable of keeping up. Billie Joe Armstrong’s merciless voice, as ever, suits the music and laces the overall feeling of the album with unforgiving attitude, with one noticeable difference. Armstrong’s voice is, not forced as some critics argue, but quite the opposite in fact. His voice is too lax during the album. He sings the verses and continues to the chorus with little conviction and climactic effect. Previously, he had a knack for colouring phrases with his voice but here, it seems as if he’s stuck on the same level – which leaves a somewhat lazy and anti-climactic impression.
The lyrics in this album and the choice of language, in particular, is interesting in ‘Uno!’. Although there is still swearing in the music, there are fewer examples of obscenities. There seems to be an-ever growing theme of mortality in the music also (with mentions of ‘Carpe Diem’, “too young to die” and “running out of time”), which is an interesting and (in this lyrical sense) failed attempt at trying to sound like their young selves.
The album is just as catchy as the music in ‘Dookie’ and ‘Warning’. In this respect it has a nostalgic quality that I very much enjoyed. ‘Oh Love’, the first single from the album is a song that you need to listen to a few times before appreciating it properly. It’s simple and more old-school than some of the other tracks but it’ll most likely be one you’ll come back to. Songs like ‘Carpe Diem’ with its guitar solo, ‘Let Yourself Go’ with resonating attitude and anger, and ‘Trouble Maker’ will have you tapping along in appreciation.
Overall, ‘Uno!’ is an album I enjoyed listening to, despite my initial reservations about their comeback, although not having a united band may affect its overall success. 4/5.