I have to be honest: I was extremely disappointed by “?Uno!” which is the first album in Green Day’s 2012 trilogy. I was desperately hoping the band would go backwards with their musical style, but this remains similar to pop rock. That’s not the only problem: Of its 13 tracks, I actually only enjoyed two.
After thoroughly listening to “?Uno!” and reading the lyrics until they were carved into my brain, I began to notice its overall theme, which I realized is surprisingly deep and relatable. It seems that lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong was reflecting on his coming of age and trying to reach out to his audience. The first track, “Nuclear Family,” describes a common problem among teenagers: family issues. Armstrong himself didn’t have a nuclear family. His father died when he was ten, and his relationship with his stepfather wasn’t pleasant.
“Carpe Diem” is, in my opinion, the preeminent song on the album.
Life is short, after all, and it really does pass in “a blink of an eye,” as Armstrong’s striking voice sings out. Not only are the vocals and lyrics over the top, but the instrumentals also set a mood that empowers the listener. It sends a positive message – something you don’t see much in mainstream music anymore.
Unfortunately, these are probably the only pleasant aspects of the album. Track five, “Kill the DJ,” is plain terrible. It sounds as if Armstrong is using AutoTune. Like an old lady using Botox, Green Day is trying to appear younger, and it’s not working out.
Another negative of the album is the lack of emotion in Armstrong’s voice. One thing that had me screaming for Green Day is how at one time, his voice portrayed so much anger one moment, but could become melancholy, light, or innocent the next. In “?Uno!” he sounds distant and withdrawn. And then he screws up some of the tracks even more, trying to produce an angry sound by simply adding explicit words. Newsflash, Billie: cursing your lungs out won’t necessarily add emotion to your music.
“?Uno!” is nowhere near Green Day’s best album. After the brilliance of “21st Century Breakdown,” it was almost impossible to wait three years to see what else Green Day had in store. Expectations were set pretty high in 2009, and this album just didn’t cut it – it’s a huge letdown.