Currently in the process of releasing a trilogy of records, Green Day enter the most ambitious phase of their career in less than perfect shape. Billie Joe Armstrong’s problems aside, ¡Uno! received mixed reviews – with the general consensus being that the band had moved on from their ’00s inspirations towards something a little closer to the Green Day that existed during the ’90s. As the second installment, ¡Dos! is certainly an improvement and, although it’s a brief 40 minute offering, the album is solid enough. Long-time collaborator/producer Rob Cavallo returns and while not a radical move, coupled with the band’s writing, it provides a hopeful pairing which has given us gems like Dookie, Insomniac and Nimrod.
Bookended by two lo-fi acoustic tracks, the album manages to fit an admirable amount of punk rock between into a half hour; the record is less an anarchist pop-punk opera and more a ’60s inspired return to their origins. It opens with ‘See You Tonight’ a lo-fi track which barely breaks a minute’s duration and yet features as a highlight; ‘Fuck Time’, and ‘Lazy Bones’ immediately synchronise with ¡Uno! and mark the arrival of the first sing-along anthem from either of the last two records (a notion it seems was long forgotten by the band).
The strongest tracks by far from are ‘Wild One’ and ‘Ashley’, both respectively stories of partying and the effects thereof. ‘Makeout Party’ keeps a steady pace and introduces a party theme that simply doesn’t yield until the final track. Unfortunately though, ¡Dos! has as many disappointing tracks as it does impressive ones; ‘Baby Eyes’, ‘Lady Cobra’ and an atrocious rap song entitled ‘Nightlife’ – all simply tarnishing the good work from before. The high point would certainly have to be ‘Stray Heart’, Beach Boys’ bouncing bass lines atop a particularly strong vocal performance; a sordid but pleasing affair between punk and surf rock. Final track ‘Amy’ reverts to the opening acoustic performance of Armstrong, singing in tribute to the late Amy Winehouse; victim of a life of excess, the song draws an eerie parallel to the frontman’s own recent battles.
The lyrics are quite dark, perhaps unsurprising given recent events. Self-harm, substance abuse and the life of excess are all covered in this somewhat hedonistic album. In a sense the old Green day will never return and those that bitch and moan about that have to be left in the dark; times change. What is evident within this trilogy is the attempt to forge modern expectations with old school sensibility, even if it doesn’t always work.