Green Day’s new album catchy but lacks depth

Martin Chang, Opinions and Features Editor

Let me tell you why Green Day is a band people still talk about.

For me, there is not a band that I feel gets me more than Green Day.

When the lead singer Billy Armstrong sings about boredom and lack of motivation on songs like “Burnout” and “Longview,” it was like he was ripping pages out of my nonexistent diary. I didn’t need one with his songs.

It may be embarrassing to admit, but in high school when I would walk home from school alone, I would sing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” to myself.

I did that because the feelings I had inside were defined and expressed so perfectly by the song. It helped me to understand what I was going through growing up, it helped me feel less lonely.

Millions of music lovers have this connection with Green Day. With “!UNO!,” Green Day’s first album in three years, they have made an album where that deep connection is hard for me and will be hard for others.

The album is catchy as hell, but catchy music seemed to be the main goal of the band on this album.

That’s too bad for fans like me that really want to dig into their music and let it define their emotional world.

With the exception of the lead single “Oh Love,” the depth of their best work is simply not here.

A big part of why their music could define emotions so well was the lyrics.

Armstrong just always seemed to have the right words, the right metaphors, for the feelings of growing up. The lyrics could seem weird sometimes but they always worked somehow.

On this album, the lyrics err on the side of caution, lyrics like “You’re so sick and tired of feeling so alone. I don’t understand the point if you have to go home,” feel generic and simplified for a broad audience.

All the weirdness and personality of Green Day’s lyrics are stripped away in many of the songs.

It robs the songs of the depth I know they can have.

The main reason you can’t connect with this album is Armstrong’s change of singing style. When Armstrong started, he had the voice of a bratty kid, a voice that could express anger and boredom in a way that was real.

Even as he got older, all the way up to 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown,” he kept just enough of that quality that you could still connect with the voice.

Now he has switched to a voice that is smoother, more like what you would expect of a well-trained singer. It actually helps on the love songs on the album like “Fell for You,” since you could describe his voice as “pretty,” but there are millions of singers that sing that way. The bratty kid voice is what makes Green Day special.

The album still has just enough of what makes the band great to be worth a listen. The familiar twitch I feel when I listen to their music was still there.

The chemistry between the members of the band still gives the music the high energy and melodic feel that I love. The band focused on making basic music where those qualities shine, avoiding things like Auto-Tune which they used on “Breakdown.”

All the basic ingredients are there. The songs still give you the feeling that you are listening to Green Day. It should have been their best in a long time and “Oh Love” comes close. That song has the lyrics and musical hooks of the best of their previous work.

But the lack of depth in the other songs on the album and the changed voice just held it back from being their best, the type of music that means so much to people like me.

 

Martin Chang’s two Favorite

 tracks off “!UNO!”

 

1. “Oh Love”

This is the only track off the album that I feel comes close to capturing the greatness of Green Day’s best work. The song has Green Day’s unique personality.

 

2.  “Fell for You”

The straightforward nature of this simple love song

puts what is great about Green Day right in your

face. Billy’s new singing style helps the songs a lot.