Maddeningly catchy if only sporadically memorable, Dos!
, the second album in Green Day
’s recent garage-rock trilogy, focuses on party-hearty tunes that tease the ear for three minutes before giving way to the next blast of pure guitar euphoria. The musical equivalent of an energy drink, Dos!
will get your engine running just fine. It can be slightly disappointing that these 13 tracks are largely all blindingly brilliant surface, but nonetheless, Green Day do this sort of revved-up power-pop as well as anyone.
Hooks That Never Let Up
Back in September, the group released Uno!
, which felt like a bracing change of pace after the towering thematic ambition of American Idiot
and 21st Century Breakdown
. By comparison, Uno!
reveled in its explosive, simplistic immediacy, churning out hooky gem after hooky gem. After absorbing Uno!
, however, Dos!
feels less shocking in its newness. In reality, Dos!
very much seems like a sequel to Uno!
, which shouldn’t be surprising since the two albums (and this December’s Tre!
) were recorded around the same time. Punch-you-in-the-face hooks remain the prime directive on Dos!
, and the album delivers at an impressively high rate.
Loud Songs, Quiet Anxiety
The most noticeable twist on Dos!
is that these ostensibly good-time party songs have a dark undercurrent to them. Sadly, real-life events have already cast a bit of a pall over this album when you consider the fact that Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong had to enter rehab
. But disregarding that for a moment, Dos!
can on its own be seen as a cautionary tale about unchecked hedonism. On a track like “Ashley,” Dookie
-style guitar thrash makes for a bouncy, infectious tune, but the lyrics lament a drug user whose lifestyle may soon be the end of her. Even the cheerful single “Stray Heart,” about asking for a second chance with a lover, is really the tale of a hopeless screw-up trying to turn his life around. Most notably, Dos!
ends with “Amy,” an ode to Amy Winehouse
, a talent whose addictions led to her early demise. The song is stripped-down -- just Armstrong and an acoustic guitar -- and it lays bare the quiet anxiety lurking at the corners of this otherwise freewheeling album.
A Bit Impersonal?
With that said, though, the album’s dichotomy of anguished lyrics and sugary pop hooks doesn’t entirely compensate for an aggressive sameness that permeates this collection. With most of the songs settling into a down-and-dirty garage-rock tone from their first second, Dos! can feel like it’s the work of a cold, well-oiled assembly line that pumps out one sleek sports car after another. There’s not one dud on Dos!, but it’s also a bit impersonal, despite the pain felt by the songs’ characters. That’s why it’s gratifying that Green Day occasionally mix things up, such as on the slinky “Nightlife,” which features sexy guest vocals from singer Lady Cobra. Weirdly, one of the strongest criticisms you can level at this album is that it’s almost too good at what it does -- the constantly engaging songcraft starts to feel like a blur, with one track becoming indistinguishable from another.
Resistance Is Futile
arriving in December, Green Day will be winding down this trilogy that, in its own way, is as ambitious as their previous concept albums. But where those records wowed with their scope and heft, Dos!
) aim to stun you with their no-nonsense tunefulness. It’s a neat trick and a necessary course correction for Green Day, who continue to be a fount of undeniable tunes. Dos!
may be a little one-dimensional, but that is one pretty good dimension.
'Dos!' - Best Tracks:
“Lazy Bones” (Purchase/Download
“Wild One” (Purchase/Download
“Stray Heart” (Purchase/Download
Release date – November 13, 2012