To review Uno!, Dos!, and Tre! as separate entities isn’t fair: not to the readers, not to the listeners and, moreover, not to Green Day. And even though I thoroughly “unfaired” the situation by berating Uno! several months ago, the three albums carry a thorough line that must be taken into consideration before examining each third of the trilogy on its own.
To examine the trilogy’s parts before its sum is to take out of context Quidditch, or the half-blood prince, or any other important something in Harry Potter’s wizarding world. And whether or not Green Days pop-punk adventure succeeded, the trio (now quartet?) constructed a musical storyboard that should be read front to back before examining its individual stories.
However, since Uno! and Dos! were prematurely reviewed, so shall Tre!, for continuity’s sake. Maintaining objectivity separate from Uno! and Dos!, though, may or may not be possible.
“Brutal Love” is an intriguing exploration for Green Day - it is what a band of 40-something successful punk rockers should be doing. With 1940s backing “oohs,” a solid horn section, and an anthemic key change, Tre! kicks off with a strong sense of layered musicality. It’s one of the first unpredictable tracks of the trilogy. Even the traditionally pop-punk “Missing You” isn’t overtly wholesome and obvious. Perhaps it is its placement between two incredibly nuanced tracks - “Brutal Love” and “8th Avenue Serenade” - that makes “Missing You” feel satisfying.
“8th Avenue Serenade” is perfect on a variety of levels. It’s length, melodic thorough line, and interesting use of 4/4 time are all strengths that distract from the even stronger lyrical storyline. Lyrically, it embodies a dark kind of innocence that nearly all of Tre! illuminates. That juxtaposition is most obvious in “Drama Queen.” The swingy, sing-a-long musical quality of the track rubs beautifully against “Daddy’s little bundle of joy out of a magazine is old enough to bleed now.”
The over-used “bombs away” image in Uno! plays out nicely in this third of the trilogy. “X-Kid” is a fancy, coming-of-age piece that uses minimalist approaches with single guitar tracks paired with stadium-rather-than-punchy drum tones. It, rather than the juvenile “Sex, Drugs & Violence,” is an appropriate direction for the 40-something year old Green Dayers.
In comparison to the high-school lyricism of Uno!, “Sex Drugs & Violence” isn’t overtly anachronistic. It has a softer approach to the teen-appeal. As does the “Carpe Diem”-esque chord and melody progressions of “A Little Boy Named Train.” There’s a subtle pop sentimentality within Tre! where even quantitatively simple tracks like “Missing You” and “Amanda” are appealing. There are intriguing aspects of song structure and lyricism that redeem the trilogy from some mundane disasters in parts one and two.
Surpassing the six-minute mark, “Dirty Rotten Bastards” is the most interesting track of all 37 in the compilation. The magic is in its drunkenly anthemic qualities and the various punk breakdowns that could all pass as chorus hooks. While “Dirty Rotten” is followed by the weakest, least interesting track on the album, the trilogy is capped off with “The Forgotten,” a tribute to the multiple decades this compilation spans.
Despite the 60s Lennon piano tone, the 80s Elton John melody choices, and the 90s string synths and guitar solo, “The Forgotten” is persuasively Green Day. And despite the pop mishaps in Uno!, the surprising-to-some, annoying-to-others retro rock choices in Dos!, the first two-thirds of the trilogy were also very distinctly Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool. There were subtle and not-so-subtle risks taken that only a 15-year old Grammy-winning group could manage. Whether one believes that the trilogy’s “risky” moves in the mainstream pop world were pulled off or not, it is obvious that there was a substantial amount of fun that Green Day had in the making. And, in addition to “one-fucking-minute,” fun is something this band deserves.
¡Tre! - ★★★★.5/★★★★★
Trilogy - ★★★☆☆
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