Album Review: Green Day – ¡Dos!

[Note: This review comes courtesy of C’mon and Cheer Me Up!]

¡Dos! is Green Day’s tenth studio album as well as the sequel to September’s ¡Uno!. As everyone knows, doing a sequel can be a risky move. There’s the potential to be vastly superior to the original (Evil Dead II, T-2: Judgment Day, The Empire Strikes Back), but there’s a bigger chance that it’ll wind up being a major disappointment (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Matrix: Reloaded, The Lost World, Blues Brothers 2000, Babe: Pig in the City). ¡Dos! is a bit of a mixed bag, so it’s a good thing for Green Day that the concept of being a direct continuation of the previous installment doesn’t necessarily apply when it comes to sequel albums (unless you’re a hiphop artist or Meatloaf).

Whereas ¡Uno! was essentially the power-pop album that Green Day probably would have recorded if they hadn’t lost the master-tapes to the now lost Cigarettes and Valentines, ¡Dos! has been described by the band in press releases as essentially the second Foxboro Hot Tubs album. In fact, one of the songs (“Fuck Time”) was even initially debuted as a Foxboro Hot Tubs song. Describing the album as a follow-up to 2008’s Stop, Drop and Roll isn’t too far off from being accurate- although since the material is being released under the “Green Day” name, the Bay Area trio does let their Green Day roots bleed through the songs’ composition more than they would have had it been released officially by the Hot Tubs. On ¡Uno!, many riffs and chord progressions sounded like them came from the band’s pre-2004 catalogue- with ¡Dos! the songs have a more distinctively American Idiot / 21st Century Breakdown flavor. That’s not to mean that all the songs are 5 minutes in length and begin with a slow piano segment before transforming into loud arena anthems (because they aren’t), but it’s not completely out of the question to listen to some songs and think that it sounds familiar. The chord progression in “Makeout Party” could almost be a warped version of 2009’s “East Jesus Nowhere”, while “Wild One” could very well be a revamped song that was discarded during the American Idiot sessions (not only the sound of the song, but also the lyrical references to giving up on Jesus lend to that feeling of angst and despair).

With that in mind, it’s also important to remember that it was established with the release of ¡Uno! that Green Day has dropped the “rock opera” concept that was ever-so-prevalent on American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. ¡Dos! continues to take it easy on the high-level concepts and socio-political imagery in the lyrics, instead opting to focus on “fun party songs” for most of the album’s duration. Tracks like “Fuck Time”, “Makeout Party”, “Lady Cobra”, “Nightlife” and “Wow! That’s Loud” are all good old fashioned rock and roll songs about drugs, partying, and sexual attraction (or just sex). They’re sure to garner some criticism for the perceived lyrical simplicity, particularly “Fuck Time”, but has loud rock music about partying ever been known for deep and introspective lyrics? Though to be fair, “oh baby, baby it’s fuck time / you know I really wanna make you mine” does sound pretty dumb after the third or fourth time hearing it in the same sitting. “Nightlife” is the standout track out of all of them, not because it’s necessarily the best song on the album, but because it’s the only song on the album that really finds the band exploring new territory. The song is a tad slower than most other songs on the album, with a lead guitar line that is very James Bond-eque, and features guest vocals contributed by Lady Cobra, of The Mystic Knights of the Cobra, who raps her verses. The barriers between the various subgenres of rock and rap have been crossed many times before (from the Aerosmith/Run DMC and Anthrax/Public Enemy collaborations to very hip-hop influenced attitude of NYHC to *shudder* nu-metal), but it’s a line that Green Day has never crossed before. It’s not the best track that they’ve ever recorded, but kudos to them for still trying something new.

It should be noted that ¡Dos! is more than just party anthems. The album begins with the acoustic 67-second “See You Tonight”. It’s kind of a filler track, but it does add some cohesiveness to the album’s feel. First single “Stray Heart” is a pretty standard Green Day song, with a bouncy bass and simple melody, and “Ashley” is akin to one of the band’s faster songs from the nimrod.-era. [Editor’s Note: It’s kind of embarrassing that the phrase “could care less” makes an appearance on “Ashley”.] The album’s closing track, “Amy”, is a tune dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse. It seems a little out of place to think that Green Day would write a song for her, but considering Winehouse’s well-known party persona, it’s almost fitting that an album full of party songs would end on a somber note. In a way, it’s symbolic of the effects of too much partying.

With less diversity present in the songs ¡Dos! isn’t really as exciting as ¡Uno!, although the themes of partying and sex stay consistent enough that ¡Dos! actually winds up being the more cohesive of the two albums. For better or for worse, ¡Dos! also sounds like a more logical follow-up to the band’s post-Warning output, albeit with less lyrical heaviness and without the cast of metaphorical characters. ¡Dos! is a decent album to throw on at a big party (or a great album at a Green Day-fan gathering), but it’s best to hide it when the punks come over to play.


[Note: Upon the release of ¡Tré!, the album has more context and the score has been retroactively altered]

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