Bloody Green Day albums are like bloody buses. You wait years for one, then three come along at once and none of them really go anywhere.
Bloody Green Day albums are like bloody buses, it’s often hard to tell them apart.
Bloody Green Day albums are like bloody buses. They’re formulaic and the driver will eventually need rehab.
We could go on. Technically ¡Tré! is the eleventh Green Day album, but in reality it’s just the last part of their ninth, the conclusion of the trilogy (following ¡Uno! and ¡Dos!) that’s spanned the last third of 2012. As such it has to accomplish two different tasks - number one to stand on its own feet as a distinct long player worthy of the tenner you’re asked to shell out for it, and number two to wrap up a thematically-linked 37 track triple album in a way that both makes sense of its predecessors and makes the whole experience seem worth while. The sad truth is ¡Tré! falls short of the first aim, and utterly fails in the second.
Let’s deal with number one first. Is ¡Tré!, when you get down to it, any good on its own? The answer is 'sort of'. It’s not that this is terrible - there’s some pin-sharp power-pop here, notably in ‘8th Avenue Serenade’, ‘Sex, Drugs and Violence’ and ‘A Little Boy Named Train’, all decent, melodic pop songs nodding to the Clash and Costello. There’s also a nice line in jangly Sixties-tinged melancholia, with opener ‘Brutal Love’ and the McCartneyish ‘The Forgotten’. It’s just that nothing really stands out. From the minute they wrote ‘Welcome to Paradise’ in 1992 right up to 2004’s ‘American Idiot’ Green Day knew how to get dance floors moving, and even their weaker albums (2000’s Warning for starters) had purpose built floorfillers. From ‘Basket Case’ to ‘Minority’ to ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ Green Day have always done rock club classics but here they get nowhere near, and as much as 50 per cent of ¡Tré! is utter filler. It’s consistently pleasant, professionally done and well turned out, but rarely any more than that. For that reason alone this is arguably the band's weakest record. This bloody Green Day album is like a bloody bus, it gets you from A to B, but you wouldn’t drive round in it all day.
Which brings us to question number two: is ¡Tré! a satisfactory finish to the trilogy? Here the answer is a clear and resounding ‘no’. The third album of the trio brings nothing new to the series at all. There’s a carefree, punky joy to ¡Uno! and a scuzzier garagey tone to ¡Dos!, a feel of a party turning sour. We were told ¡Tré! would be darker and finish the story. Well it isn’t, and it doesn’t. In truth ¡Tré! is the undoing of the whole project. Had this last volume taken a more ambitious turn, moving the narrative forward and creating a distinct identity of its own, then the ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! concept would have been hailed a success. Sadly Billy Joe Armstrong and co don’t just drop the ball, they ignore it. By refusing to flesh out the narrative themes of its predecessor, and not scooping out its own identity ¡Tré! opens the project up to the the most obvious criticism you can level at a multi-disc record: the whole thing would have been better edited down to one, strong album. You’d hope a band of Green Day’s age and experience could have avoided the Use Your Illusion trap, but without that strong, interesting third disc the filler on the other two feels all the more obvious and inexcusable.
A failed experiment then, all the more painful for the potential it showed. It’s difficult to recommend ¡Tré! in its own right, and the smart move is probably to cherry pick the tracks you want rather than shell out for the whole thing, and that is surely the most damning judgment you can make on such a grand concept.
Bloody Green Day albums are like bloody buses. Sometimes the journey just isn’t worth the fare.
5Marc Burrows's Score