Green Day - Uno!
The oddest thing about Green Day is just how far ahead they are of the competition. Sure, with 1994's Dookie, Billie Joe Armstrong and co. penned one of the definitive pop punk albums, and American Idiot was a surprise international success, but there are dozens of bands doing much the same thing - sometimes more so. And yet no-one is going to book NOFX for a stadium tour. Whatever Green Day's star quality is might not be immediately apparent, but no-one can deny they have it.
Uno! fails to stray terribly far from the standard Green Day format: the guitars are muted during the verses and are given free reign during the choruses, the chord progressions and riffs are so familiar that you begin to imagine Armstrong has already written these songs and just recycles them with some (slightly) different melodies. What this means, of course, is if you've liked anything GD have done in the past, you will probably like most of what's here. BJ can still knock out a decent chorus, the chest-beating 'Carpe Diem' and the toe-tapping 'Rusty James' standing out.
Yet while no-one over the age of 13 was ever truly likely to get fired up by American Idiot, it reads like Noam Chomsky compared to Uno! Armstrong is 40, so to pen anything as banal as the ska-tinged 'Kill The DJ' suggests nothing less than running on empty, inspiration-wise. Most of the other titles ('Sweet 16', 'Troublemaker', 'Fell For You') are straight out of the Bert Weedon Write a Song in an Hour book of songcraft. Of course, no-one particularly looks to pop punk for great insight, but from an artistic point of view, little here suggests much art. It's the musical equivalent of writing verse for greetings cards or painting pictures of sad-eyed puppy dogs. Pop punk - a bit of spit or bile or the odd chortle surely isn't too much to ask for?
Uno! is the first of a trilogy of albums due to be released over the next six months or so. It's an ambitious project no doubt, but on the basis of this installment, chock full as it is of Green Day-by-numbers efforts, another couple of dozen tracks of the same ilk should be - literally - no effort at all.