It takes two songs, merely eight minutes of music, before Billie Joe Armstrong fits yet another gritty, triumphant “fuck” into his lyrics, reminding us that yes, ¡Tré! is indeed from the same recording sessions that gave us the undercooked ¡Uno! and the better but not exactly monumental ¡Dos!.
This is important because it emphasizes the point: There’s really nothing new to say about this album that hasn’t already been said about the previous two, except that it’s here quicker than we thought as a make-nice effort for the fans who won’t be seeing Green Day live any time soon. It is a sloppy, slapped-together collection of songs that is supposed to represent the hangover after the long night of partying. It succeeds to that end — it is definitely above average for a hangover.
Opener “Brutal Love” sets up the vibe quite nicely, actually, coming off something like “Unchained Melody” once the beer goggles have worn off. Its five minutes feel like they take forever to get through, but the horns and pianos and slowly building guitar textures actually keep it fairly interesting to the end. It offers hope, actually, that Green Day might just have managed one great album of the three they released this fall. In baseball, a .333 average is pretty good, after all, so if ¡Tré! happened to be great, the other two could be forgiven.
To hope for greatness is to hope for too much, though. ¡Tré! is not an awful disc, but it suffers from the same lack of inspiration as its predecessors. Again, it’s as if the songs are serving the mood they’re supposed to be representing, rather than the mood being defined by the songs. There are songs about girls, there are songs about politics, there are songs about faded youth, and there’s an interminable dirge that an uncomfortably large percentage of the population is going to recognize as Green Day’s contribution to the Twilight series. “Dirty Rotten Bastards” betrays a band that just couldn’t help but go back to the well of multipart “Jesus of Suburbia”-style suites, and “Sex, Drugs & Violence” as token badass rock ‘n roll song is as convincing as your dad coming home with a Corvette and claiming he bought it for the gas mileage.
The best moments come when they’re sticking to the bleary-eyed intent of the album the closest. “Drama Queen” and “X-Kid” are an acoustic stroll and a mid-tempo rocker respectively, but they both deal with the promise and innocence of yesterday replaced by the bleak reality of today and, presumably, tomorrow. While “Drama Queen” wallows in reflection, though, “X-Kid” is weirdly uplifting in its message. Its refrain of “Bombs away, here goes nothing, the shouting’s over” speaks to leaving the lingering drama and trauma behind. It’s actually quite lovely. “Amanda”, for its part, sticks out as a fun little lost-love anthem, reminiscent of a deep cut from the Dookie days.
Are those highlights enough to offer a recommendation for the album? No, of course not.
In a way, ¡Tré!‘s release was necessary and good for the band. What it offers is a chance for this era of Green Day to contain within it an album’s worth of songs worthy of the band’s legacy. Fans disappointed with the quality of the individual albums can make their own. Better yet, everyone can make an album tailored to their own tastes.
It’s almost enough to make one wonder if that might have been the goal in the first place. We’re a society less concerned with album-length statements and more concerned about throwing the songs that define us on the digital music device of our choice, meticulously building the catalogs that define our own lives. Maybe Green Day’s trilogy is just a record company approved way of throwing a whole mess of songs at us so we can build our own version of “Green Day’s Latest Album”. At least, that’s what I’m going to choose to believe until they finally muster up enough energy to put together a new album that feels like something more than a sloppy collection of underbaked songs.
Check out my version of “Green Day’s Latest Album” in the Spotify playlist below. I’d give it a B+, easy.