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Album Review: New Green Day album has hits, misses

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Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:09 pm

Grade: B

Green Day’s new album is carefree and catchy.

At times it’s a dirty, sloppy mess.

But if approached as the soundtrack to a party spiraling out of control — as front man Billie Joe Armstrong has consistently described it — it’s obvious that’s exactly what its authors intended.

Green Day released its ninth studio album, “¡Dos!,” this week, the second chapter of its “¡Uno!” “¡Dos!” “¡Tré!” album trilogy spanning over four months.

The band clearly took some pointers from its wine-guzzling alter ego, Foxboro Hot Tubs, to create the trilogy’s second installment.

In fact, if its 13 tracks were weaved into the Hot Tubs’ 2008 album “Stop Drop and Roll!!!,” few listeners could probably distinguish between the two.

Both are fabulously infused with grungy garage rock, lighthearted themes and growls and groans from a sexually frustrated front man.

Anyone who glances over the album’s track listing — containing songs like “Wild One,” “Nightlife” and “Makeout Party” — will quickly learn they can’t take it too seriously.

But why should they? After all, songs about masturbation and unrequited love thrust the band into the mainstream music scene in the ‘90s, so a set list like this shouldn’t be too surprising.

I’m not ashamed to claim “F--- Time” as my favorite track; it’s a hilarious tune originally penned for the Hot Tubs that’s as profound as its title suggests.

It’s a song about sex that probably won’t prompt many people to have any, but it’s unexplainably catchy and cleverly kick starts the album on a high note.

Other standout tracks include “Lazy Bones,” a pop-rock tune with self-analytical lyrics similar to Green Day’s early work and lead single “Stray Heart,” a fan favorite led by a bass line reminiscent of the ‘60s.

“¡Dos!” is certainly a polarizing album, though, as it also contains a few forgettable tracks and one obvious flop: “Nightlife,” a lackluster collaboration with rapper Lady Cobra that I would like to forget, but can’t.

I appreciate the band’s willingness to experiment — something made possible by releasing a trilogy, rather than a single album — but “Nightlife” is as bad as you expect it to be and Lady Cobra’s uninspiring rhymes don’t help its cause.

Other areas of the album are also lacking lyrically, but its unique sound is a fair trade-off in most places.

“¡Dos!” is littered with infectious bass lines and exhilarating guitar solos, both rare and well-missed in 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown” and 2004’s “American Idiot.”

But, while diverse, “¡Dos!” packs more shock value on its first few listens, I believe pop-punk “¡Uno!” still stands better on its own as a complete package with more long-term playability.

Nonetheless, “¡Dos!” successfully injects a jolt of energy into Green Day’s trilogy while sending its listeners on a wild ride.

Like most highs, the album comes crashing down, closing on a somber note with “Amy,” a touching solo tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.

Armstrong’s acoustic ballad is hauntingly sincere — especially given his current issues surrounding substance abuse — and perfectly sets the scene for “¡Tré!,” an arena rock album laced with self-reflection set to debut Dec. 11.

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