Green Day’s most ambitious project to date, the triple-album release of ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and, most recently, ¡Tré!, has finally come to a conclusion. The mammoth project spans 37 songs across the three albums and has all-but-guaranteed a four-month-long spotlight on the Bay Area pop punks, even if all the attention hasn’t necessarily been positive.
From the first song, the contemplative and arena-ready “Brutal Love,” ¡Tré! comes across as a much more mature album. Where ¡Uno! seemed to try to blend into the high school halls across the Midwest and ¡Dos! flirted with a return to the Green Day with which everyone fell in love, ¡Tré! seems to be an opportunity for frontman Billie Joe Armstrong to showcase his adult side. Much like ¡Dos! before it, ¡Tré! is bookended by a pair of similar tracks, in this case “Brutal Love” and “The Forgotten,” two piano-driven tracks that imagine Armstrong following in Elton John’s footsteps. It’s interesting that ¡Tré! features this side of Armstrong’s songwriting so prominently: this trilogy of releases could potentially mark a turning point for Green Day. The last decade or so has seen the traditionally snotty pop punks try to grow up, but, as they all round their 40th birthday, it could be that ¡Tré! is a way for them to signal new territory. If “The Forgotten” is any indication, three-chord masturbation ragers could be relegated to the back-burner in favour of Lynyrd Skynyrd- and Allman Brothers-inspired legato guitar playing and adult-oriented soft rock tracks. It’s not an entirely bad direction for them — a band has to eventually evolve — so these tracks are promising for a new direction.
Now, that is not to say that ¡Tré! is entirely devoid of Green Day’s traditional sound. In fact, the majority of the album skirts the line between the teen pap anthems featured on ¡Uno! (“Sex, Drugs & Violence,” “X-Kid,” “99 Revolutions”) and some of the more exciting songs off ¡Dos! (“Missing You,” “Amanda,” “8th Avenue Serenade”). Of particular note, ¡Tré! features a return to the multi-part sagas of American Idiot and 21st Century with the six-minute-plus “Dirty Rotten Bastards,” which somewhat predictably sides with the “retarded and the broken hearted” in the current “season of misery.” It’s ostensibly an outcast song that rails against the system that’s too big to fail or care, but, as has been the case lately, it over-reaches and falls flat.
It’s tough to say how this trilogy is going to age. Right now, critics seem to be only too eager to slay it before it has a chance to stand, which is mirrored in the albums’ relatively poor sales figures. To be sure, save for a handful of songs, there aren’t any instant classics that could anchor the trilogy and entice too many further listens. If they had condensed the best of the three albums down into one, they might have an absolute smash of a success, but three different Green Days are present on the trilogy: which songs would have made the final cut? Which Green Day will emerge on the next album?
If anything, the trilogy represents a special moment in Green Day’s career: they have the room and energy to experiment and be as prolific as they choose (with a certain “results be damned” attitude) and, certainly, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! are just that. However, it seems likely that Green Day are preparing themselves and their fans for a new chapter in their career, one which may see them take a more mature, adult approach.
By Sebastian BuzzalinoAB, Alberta