The first of Green Day's three new albums is a winner, writes Saeed Saeed Green Day ĦUno! (Reprise)
For many of Green Day's newest fans, the band's biography began in 2004 when the California punks released their undeniable masterpiece American Idiot.
It seemed that this success, and its unwitting side effect of having the band saddled with the "voice of the generation" tag, compelled the trio to release another bold statement.
The 2008 follow-up, 21st Century Breakdown tanked because anyone following the band pre-American Idiot knew the group worked best when left to their own devices.
This is why their latest release, ĦUno!, sounds so much fun.
Stripped of expectations, Green Day returned to the studio to do what they do best: making a melodic racket with only a bunch of chords.
But the adventurousness they discovered since American Idiot's success is maintained, as ĦUno! is the first of a trilogy of albums, which are being released at six-week intervals.
The idea is totally bonkers, of course, and the last big modern rock band to try this were Everclear, who began fading into obscurity after the staggered release of the two-part Songs from an American Movie in 2000.
ĦUno! works as both an album in its own right and as the first of a three-course musical feast. The opener Nuclear Family is straight out the gates with urgent riffs and a pile-driving chorus.
The intent continues with Stay the Night, a rocking paean to a shaky relationship that has an absolutely fabulous bridge.
While Carpe Diem shows the group have learnt a few tricks from their stint headlining stadiums, it has a sky-high chorus that can't help but propel your fist in the air.
Unrestrained by a concept, ĦUno! pogoes along like the best of Green Day's early material. A few tracks recall the group's punk missives from the 1990s.
The taut Let Yourself Go could have been a single from 1995's Insomniac, while Fell For You is another display of the group's romantic streak, first explored on Redundant and Worry Rock from 1997's Nimrod.
The group's focus on melody takes ĦUno! in a more power-pop direction than punk.
The tender Sweet 16 and the all-out swagger of Rusty James recalls the song craftsmanship of Fountains of Wayne.
Some new tricks fall flat, however. For all its publicity, the dancey Kill The DJ sounds like a poor Franz Ferdinand imitation and Trouble Maker is basically a riff going nowhere.
The album picks up again towards the end culminating with the Celtic-tinged closer Oh Love, which sets things up nicely for the more experimental approaches of the forthcoming ĦDos! and ĦTré!