Sunday, February 03, 2013

Inessential but fun

album review

¡Tré! finds Green Day expending less energy on punk attitude and putting more focus on pop melody

Band: Green Day
Album: ¡Tré!

2012 was a busy year for Green Day. Even though their touring plans were postponed due to Billie Joe Armstrong's stint in rehab, the group still released three albums within the span of a few months towards the end of the year (albeit at a slightly modified schedule). The rambunctious first disc, ¡Uno!, saw them return to their pop rock roots, providing a set of catchy ditties likely to please fans of their '90s output. The second album, ¡Dos!, flirted with garage rock and offered a more commercial take on their Foxboro Hot Tubs persona. The band now winds up the trilogy with its final instalment, ¡Tré!, which ties the first two discs together.

A nod to drummer Tré Cool's name, ¡Tré! finds Green Day expending less energy on punk attitude and putting more focus on pop melody. Comprising of a dozen songs, the album sees the band once again work with producer Rob Cavallo and offers immediate hooks wrapped around up-tempo tunes.

From the soul tinged opener 'Brutal Love' to the sappy piano ballad closer 'The Forgotten' (which also found home on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 soundtrack) and everything in between, there is no shortage of straightforward, enjoyable pop tunes on the set. 'X-Kid' stands out for its feel of urgency, 'Missing You' is by the numbers but competent, and the mid tempo balladry of 'Drama Queen' is charming although a bit listless. And while 'Dirty Rotten Bastards' and '99 Revolutions' sound like outtakes from American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown, the dodgy experiments of the first two sets in the form of 'Kill the DJ' and 'Nightlife' have largely been shunned in favour of mainstream, radio friendly pop rock tracks.

¡Tré! is a set of songs that are likely to connect instantly with newer/younger fans, although long term fans may find the output too poppy and commercial. Nothing here is likely to surprise you. The lyrics won't win the band any songwriting awards, and the album also falls prey to the critique that has surfaced repeatedly for the rest of the trilogy: repetitiveness and rehashing. A casual listener may find these songs too similar and struggle to tell them apart on first listen. Detractors will still think the band has about two and a half songs and just keeps rereleasing them. But Green Day fans who appreciate the group's pop sensibilities will be able to embrace these tracks, and listeners who like simple pop rock will enjoy the set.

As for the trilogy on the whole, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! was an enjoyable project, although there was nothing exceptional about it. Overall, it wasn't an elaborate, high concept trilogy, just some solid pop tunes put together. Nothing really stood out, and some of the tunes seemed recycled. “I took a wrong turn in growing up and it's freaking me out,” Billie Joe sings on 'Sex, Drugs & Violence', and the trilogy seems like a musical manifestation of that sentiment. With the back to basics vibe they employed, we didn't get to see a new or different side of Green Day; the side we did see, however, was competent and pleasant, but not necessarily imaginative and creative. Was it essential? No. But it certainly was fun.

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 3rd February, 2013

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