Green Day, ‘¡Dos!’ (Reprise)
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Midway through their ongoing, three-album 2012 stunt, Green Day soothe any concerns about the band’s continuing viability with reassuring, unsoothing vigor. On ¡Dos!, like September’s ¡Uno!, Billie Joe Armstrong and crew sound like their classic, world-conquering pop-punk selves, before 2004’s socially conscious American Idiot and the ensuing Broadway spectacle brought them heightened respectability but reduced rock’n’roll cred. No wonder they took a detour back to basics in 2008 via their Foxboro Hot Tubs side project, only to succumb to dead-end grandiosity on 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, the last Green Day album until this manic reboot. (¡Tre! is out next month.)
So kudos to the lads for getting off the soapbox and returning to the garage, reminding us they carry on in the tradition of the Stooges, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and other primal role models. Besides proving they’re not dead yet, however, ¡Dos! raises fresh questions that need to be addressed once the initial high induced by their successful return has waned. Sure, Billie Joe’s signature combo of vulgarity and tenderness still charms, and he can concoct a punk-pop tune better than any of the impressionable bands who’ve followed his lead over the past two decades. But is simply sounding like yourself enough? Judging from the spirited but wildly inconsistent material on this trilogy’s first two entries, a little quality control would’ve helped, perhaps funneling the best of the three albums into one solid offering. Here, “Baby Eyes” and “Stop When the Red Lights Flash” feel generic, like a devout Green Day tribute band, while the clumsy hip-hop of “Nightlife” is beyond dire.
Then there’s the blistering “Fuck Time” (“I wanna choke you ’til you’re blue in the face”), where Billie Joe plays the outrageous brat — yet again. (Despite hitting the big 4-0 earlier this year, his recent public travails, including an onstage tirade and subsequent rehab stint or two, have shored up his bad-boy status.) From someone less appealing, such juvenile posturing would be pretty creepy; though he’s not there yet, Billie Joe might want to abandon that approach now, for artistic as well as personal reasons — even the most seductive rascals lose their boyish allure eventually.
The path to salvation lies somewhere between the traps of embarrassing perpetual adolescence and dreary maturity. In the meantime, ¡Dos! has enough arresting songs to keep hope alive, including the slashing “Makeout Party,” the dreamy “Wild One” (which might be Billie Joe’s salute to the Pixies), and “Wow! That’s Loud,” which mixes the explosive force of the Who’s “My Generation” with a storm of psychedelic noise to thrilling effect. Assuming ¡Tre! has a similar blend of winners and duds, plan on making a killer mixtape of Green Day circa 2012, and then worrying about what comes later, well, later.