Three albums from Green Day
in the span of three months ends up being a little too much of a good thing. Although Tre!
has its share of catchy punk-pop tunes, it tends to be pretty similar to the trilogy’s first two installments (Uno!
), not to mention the group’s catalog to date. It might seem churlish to complain about a new collection of solidly crafted songs, but because Tre!
rarely matches Green Day’s previous high points, it feels like a batch of leftovers. Strong leftovers, to be sure, but leftovers nonetheless.
No Big Surprises
The previous albums in this trilogy had certain overriding thematic underpinnings that made them stand out. Uno!
represented a return to straight-ahead rock after the oversized ambitions of the concept albums 21st Century Breakdown
and American Idiot
examined the darkness and desperation of those living the hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, ending with a poignant farewell to Amy Winehouse
. It’s not that Tre!
doesn’t have a brain in its head, but it doesn’t offer anything exciting either musically or lyrically. Rather than ending the trilogy on a grand note, Tre!
is a little anticlimactic.
As with the rest of the trilogy, Tre! finds the trio unleashing a string of three-minute rockers that explode on contact. (The notable exception, the six-and-half-minute “Dirty Rotten Bastards,” has some of the dramatic scope of the band’s concept records.) There are a few ballads, including the piano number “The Forgotten” that was featured in the Twilight finale, but Tre! is mostly pure up, as frontman Billie Joe Armstrong lets rip with his usual bratty, nasally whine. When he and his mates tear through a track like “Missing You,” you get the old thrill, reminded all over again how well Armstrong’s romantic longing goes with amped-up guitars, a bouncy rhythm section and a melody that won’t get out of your head. There’s more garage-rock than punk-rock on Tre!, but the slightly slower tempos don’t do much to diminish the band’s boundless energy.
Familiar, Impersonal Highlights
But that skill gives way to sameness on Tre!
, where even the best moments will mostly remind you of earlier Green Day highlights. The soaring arena-rock of “Walk Away” recalls the band’s 2000s records, while “8th Avenue Serenade” draws comparisons to the merger of maturity and hooks of the Nimrod
era. Consequently, Armstrong’s strengths as a songwriter can come across as programmatic. The album-opening “Brutal Love,” which has some of the moxie of Bruce Springsteen
’s Born to Run
mixed with an almost theatrical flourish, is so polished that it feels like it’s ready for a Broadway jukebox musical. Of course, Armstrong has had some experience with this recently -- the stage version of American Idiot won two Tonys
-- but it does hint at the somewhat impersonal nature of Tre!
: It’s meant to entertain a big amphitheater, but it’s almost too big for a one-on-one connection.
'Tre!' - Bottom Line
Green Day fans probably won’t mind Tre!
’s familiarity, happy to have more of the band’s songs in the world. That’s completely understandable, and with some distance the new album may start to provide some enduring pleasures. But especially in light of its arrival so quickly on the heels of Uno!
-- a decision inspired by Armstrong’s recent rehab stint
suffers a bit from listener fatigue. These are 12 good Green Day songs. But they’re not 12 remarkable or stunningly original Green Day songs.
'Tre!' - Best Tracks:
“Brutal Love” (Purchase/Download
“Missing You” (Purchase/Download
“Walk Away” (Purchase/Download
“Dirty Rotten Bastards” (Purchase/Download
“The Forgotten” (Purchase/Download
Release date – December 11, 2012