The Violent Femmes once introduced a verse in the song “Prove My Love” singing “Third verse / same as the first”. Larry and Andy Wachowski also created two sequels to the movie The Matrix that severely diluted the impact of the original (in my humble opinion). Green Day have done something that most mainstream musical acts have never attempted – release 3 albums within a span of just a few months. I was very skeptical of this plan, but found myself pleasantly surprised with the 1st two installments – ¡Uno! and ¡Dos! (truth be told, I liked the 2nd installment a bit better). The release of the third (and last) record of the trilogy, ¡Tré! was bumped up by a month due to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s ongoing rehabilitation treatments. How does this record stack up to the previous two? Going back to the Violent Femmes lyric, it has some winning moments but also has moments that sound like more generic versions of songs found on the 1st two installments.
It presented a curious dilemma for me – I loved both of the previous installments, but what if I absolutely hated this record? Fortunately, these concerns were unfounded – but this is the weakest installment of the “2012 Green Day experiment”. I enjoyed the way Green Day channeled The Clash (by way of Radio 4) on the 1st record. I enjoyed the way they tapped into a 50’s Sun Records sound on portions of the 2nd installment while simultaneously experimenting with a hip hop influence on a song. On ¡Tré! the band again gives us a few winning ballads along with several harder edged songs that become sing-a-long anthems after just a few listens. Instead of a punk influence on some of the rock n roll based songs, I think there is an 80’s stadium rock sound (think Billy Squier or Bryan Adams). While I like both of those artists, when presented in the context of a Green Day record it can come off as generic. But nevermind that (for now) – let’s talk about the highlights.
We share the scars from our abandon… (album highlights)
Brutal Love gets the record started off with an acoustic based lament with Billie Joe Armstrong displaying a longing in his voice that is touching. The band kicks in and it feels like we are at a Prom in 1955 with Marty McFly at Hill Valley High School. One of the strongest cuts on the record. Key lyrics:
Turn out the lights
Close your eyes
Tear up the silence
The heartache of your life
Under the lights
This brutal love
Drama Queen – another song that looks to the 50’s for inspiration. Really warm vocals with acoustic backing. I think we’ve all known a few drama queens in our life and features a guitar solo straight from The Beatles circa 1969. The song seems to be about one of Billie Joe Armstrong’s daughters (or both). The lyrics will bring a smile to your face, and perhaps make you shrug at the frankness of a key line repeated throughout. “Daddy’s little bundle of joy / Out of a magazine / Everyone’s drama queen / Is old enough to bleed now”
Amanda continues the tradition throughout this trilogy of using a woman’s name as a song title. This one is a mid tempo rocker that stands out from the crowd due to its catchy chorus. “Amanda don’t you know / when i still look around / you’re talking out your mouth / without a fragile sound”
The Forgotten – yes, this song features on the latest installment of the Twilight movie franchise. No, it shouldn’t count against it (full confession – I was in Forks, WA 2 weeks ago and seem to sparkle in the sunlight). This is a stunning piano based ballad cut from the same cloth as “Let it Be” by The Beatles. Key lyrics:
So where in the world’s the forgotten?
Like soldiers from a long-lost war
We share the scars from our abandon
And what we remember becomes folklore
I can recommend this record based on the standout tracks and a few others that rise above a few generic sounding tracks. Taken by itself, the album stands on its own. Viewed within the context of a trilogy released within a span of 4 months, some weaknesses present themselves. Overall, I still say it is worth your time and attention.
Verdict: Better when it’s slower
For fans of: Operation Ivy, The Clash, U2, Billy Squier, Bryan Adams
1. Brutal Love
2. Missing You
3. 8th Avenue Serenade
4. Drama Queen
6. Sex, Drugs & Violence
7. Little Boy Named Train
9. Walk Away
10. Dirty Rotten Bastards
11. 99 Revolutions
12. The Forgotten