Every company needs competition: Virgin vs. Sky, o2 vs. Orange, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona and so on, and the record companies are no different, like Vince Mcmahon and the WWE they have to create their own feuds: Christina vs. Britney, Lady Gaga vs. Madonna, Metallica vs. Megadeth, to name but a few. But what happens when there is nobody standing at the top of a certain niche? Quite simply, you fill it as fast as possible.
Let’s cast our minds back shall we, to the early ‘noughties ‘ when Blink-182 were reigning Kings of Punk. But they needed a contender. In 2000 The Offspring released Conspiracy of One, hoping to catch on to a newer audience with songs like Original Prankster as they did with Americana and Pretty Fly (for a white guy), but to no avail. Then, in 2001 Sum 41 released All Killer, No Filler with Island Records, it went straight into #10 on the Billboard Chart and went platinum, but to no avail. Simple Plan the subsequent year with No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls and Good Charlotte with The Young and the Hopeless, both excellently acclaimed but, once again to no avail. 2003 and along came Yellowcard something a little more different, something fresher and a groundbreaking debut with Ocean Avenue but, you guessed it, no avail. Then along came 2004 (unsurprisingly) and with it Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (My Chemical Romance) and In Love and Death (The Used) but both were heading in a very ‘Emo’ Direction.
So the best part of five years had passed, Blink, are taking an “indefinite hiatus” therefore stepping down from the throne. And then along came….. Bowling For Soup released A Hangover you Don’t Deserve reaching #37 in the Billboard Chart, good but not good enough, because guess who were at #1? That’s right, “And still reigning champions of the Punk World…….. Green Day”, with their Album American Idiot.
Before we continue let us remind ourselves – as is important with any punk band, after all you can’t be punk if there’s nothing to rebel against – that this was a year where George W.Bush and his administration were campaigning and pushing more and more troops into Afghanistan, for their ongoing War on Terror, (or most possibly for oil) and earlier this year two albums (Rock Against Bush Vol. l & ll) consisted of the punk community getting together and rebelling against President Bush and his administration, which Green Day also took part in, a month after Vol.ll came American Idiot. An album wrought with clichés and buzz words to get the government’s attention, calling Americans idiots – I’m surprised to find out – isn’t considered light treason. Lyrics like “Armageddon in flames”, and “the company lost the war” along with their music videos such as Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends all point to one thing, their conflict against Swine of the White House and how the War is a conspiratorial lie to the world.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I am an avid lover of Green Day and always will be. There are also plenty of metalheads, trance lovers and R&B groupies that admit that the American Idiot album was at very least, very good. However I just feel that albums like Nimrod and Dookie were more experimental and showed that the band were capable of so much more than being just another punk band. But the throne wasn’t good enough for them and the men at Reprise Records noticed this, and what’s the next step after the Throne? Immortality, that’s where. They became Jesus of the punk world, re-writing the bible for their genre, albeit obviously so, Jesus of Suburbia, Bullet in a Bible anyone? But it worked and they’ve been living off that cash cow since. 21st Century Breakdown sounded like a whole bunch of well produced B-sides but nevertheless a very good album whilst shedding off some of their anti-Bush style. After all you can’t rebel against something when it’s not there.
And now ¡Uno!, the first album of three to be released in a small timescale. ¡Tré! Is due to be released in January 2013. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you what the second album is called but it will be released on November 13th of this year.
¡Uno!, Is right back where the band should be, they’re not rebelling against anything in particular but more like, everything, like a true punk band should. Take the song Loss of Control, it’s wrought with angst against anything that comes near the band, and Kill the DJ could well be viewed as their dislike of the particular club/house music genre. This album is less preachy than their previous two and that should be abundantly obvious. You can hear a hint of Nimrod in this album as well, with the song Kill the DJ they have added a melodic Ska beat subtly playing through, but not diminishing their punk riffs, just like in King for a Day. They still have shed their grungy sounding riffs for a more clean-cut anthem-istic style but that just comes with the territory, after all if you’ve been working more than anyone else in the industry, you undoubtedly will start to get used to creating a certain sound, and that’s not to say that’s an awful thing, they still have their hard-hitting guitars, just listen to Let Yourself Go, 3 minutes of head banging, turn it up to 11, and get angry at the world.
They’ve also included a couple of “Love Songs” for you as well, nothing cheesy like Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) but the type that punk bands should play, about all those curious feelings that come up with love and relationships, but still with that hard-hitting-don’t-give-a-damn edge. Songs like Stay the Night and Fell for You, not quite ballads as I don’t think lyrics like ‘I woke up in a pool of sweat, first I thought that I pissed the bed’ could be categorized as Romantic. They then mix it up and throw in songs like Troublemaker which still retains the marching beat from times like Warning. To go full circle and serenade you with Oh Love which, whilst it’s very different is very reminiscent of Wake me up When September Ends.
There are two songs that settle this album for me though and they seem to encapsulate the bands attitude at the moment. Carpe Diem is blatantly the band showing that they are still around, and working harder than ever. Mike Dirnts bass line is earth shatteringly foot stomping throughout and Tre Cool’s drumming is worthy of recognition, quickly but surely getting to Travis Barker standard. ‘Well there’s no one left around, and you’re the last gang in town’ in the song Rusty James tells of their knowledge that they are the biggest thing in punk and rock right now and with all arrogance, but you forgive this because there’s no room for arrogance in Punk, is there? This could also be heightened by Billie Joe Armstrongs’ “outburst” at the iHeartRadio gig in Las Vegas when he was told to cut his set in half, this then prompted Green Day to destroy their instruments in protest and remind the Music World that Green Day are bigger than ever and demand more respect, walking off stage whilst thanking their audience and fans for being there and promising “God Fucking Love you all.. We’ll be back”. This undoubtedly proves that Punk and Green Day are not dead.
¡Uno!, is pure Green Day at their best, with hints from all their successes such as Insomniac, Kerplunk and Warning, delving into all their own unique punk styling’s with a hint of clean-cut producing from American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Before the latter mentioned albums let’s remember that they are first and foremost another punk band, and that’s how they should stay, and it looks like it will be around for a while, who else is there to take their throne?