Sound — 9
The phrase "Two steps forward, one step back" probably most accurately describes Green Day's career over the past decade; however, this is not to say that a specific direction is ultimately universally preferable. "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown", the two most recent efforts by the punk group, were more pop-driven concept albums, which many know culminated in the live Broadway adaptation (which is really quite spectacular, but that is a topic for another discussion) of "American Idiot". Don't expect any theatrics on "Uno!", though. While some might say that making a (trilogy of) single-driven, simple punk rock album(s) after releasing two rock operas seems more conceited than releasing two rock operas alone, this does not detract from the overall sound of the album. One who has listened to any previews of songs on "Uno!" should be aware that they have already tasted exactly what the band is offering, just on a smaller scale. This album shifts back to the vein of simple, power chord driven punk rock, and the sound is quite refreshing. Coming from someone who enjoyed the extravagance of "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown", the pared down sound of "Uno!" is equally enjoyable, and brings the band back to its roots, while maintaining a little of the flair for refined production. Songs like "Nuclear Family", "Stay The Night", and "Let Yourself Go" will remind the frequent Green Day listener of "Dookie"-days; "Loss Of Control" may give memories of "Insomniac"; and "Sweet 16" and "Fell For You" will probably make you feel like a "Nimrod". It doesn't all feel like old material, though. "Kill The DJ" is probably most unique to the band's history, and "Troublemaker" is also a step in a different direction. One main difference that sets the sound of this album apart from more "classic" Green Day LPs is the guitar solos present on several of the songs, as well as the overall musicianship of each member. Armstrong rips a couple of good solos, and while most are more intended as transition and short-lived, they add some meat to the bone of the traditional Ramones-esque punk sound. The rhythm section is also a lot tighter, which would be expected from a band who has done little but record and play live music over 25 years.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrically (and musically, really) it's pretty clear that Green Day wants you to think they don't give a f--k for most of the album. This is most literally evident on the fourth track, "Let Yourself Go", which begins, "Shut your mouth, 'cause you're talkin' too much/And I don't give a f--k anyway". Most of the tracks on "Uno!" run similarly to this sort of theme; Green Day really doesn't have much to say, they just wanted to play some loud, fast music. And that they do, so overall, it's a success. There are a few nicer songs, i.e. "Fell For You", "Angel Blue", "Sweet 16", and "Oh Love". Moreover, these songs, too, are not lyrically groundbreaking; to do so would seem foreign to the album's overall sound. Thematically, one should expect to hear what they heard on Green Day's "good ol' days". Still, it would have been nice to hear the mold being broken on a track or two, as some of "Uno!" has a tendency to seem a bit repetitive. Armstrong's vocals are pretty consistent with previous Green Day releases, and his voice fits the tone of the album pretty well, although some listeners might find his "tough-guy" attitude a bit forced.
Overall Impression — 7
For many listeners, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly how you feel about "Uno!". If you were hoping that Green Day would depart from their recent theatrical stint, your dreams have come true; however, you may feel like the band is still relying on publicity stunts, sacrificing quality for quantity by releasing a "triple-album" over the course of the next few months. Others might feel like the band is already too far gone into the realm of radio-music. While this album does shift back towards a grittier punk sound, it certainly still has a pop flair. Neither of these scenarios mean that "Uno!" can't be an enjoyable experience overall, and much of your reaction will depend on your own expectations. Personally, I liked listening to it, and saw and appreciated what the band is trying to do. It won't become my favorite album of all time, and not even my favorite Green Day album, but that doesn't mean that I or any other listener won't enjoy listening to it in the future. Most of all, it's fun, and while the sound may feel a little forced at times, it's still a good album to rock out to.