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Green Day's 'Uno!' is sharp, slick

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong performs during the

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong performs during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Sept. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images




BOTTOM LINE Grown-up punk and power-pop paradise

As mid-career transformations go, Green Day's graduation from smart-aleck "Dookie" punks to chroniclers of the "American Idiot" turn of the century may be the grandest ever.

The question -- after the Grammy-winning and, later, Tony-winning rock anthems of "American Idiot" and its equally heady follow-up, "21st Century Breakdown" -- became whether they could keep it up. "¡Uno!" (Warner Bros.), the first installment in an ambitious, garage-rock trilogy to be released over the next four months, answers with a defiant sneer and sarcastic single-finger salute.

While "¡Uno!" isn't overtly political, it's certainly disgruntled, even when Billie Joe Armstrong is singing his sunniest, power-pop melodies and bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool do their best to make you pogo and pump your fist. The gorgeous "Sweet 16" is a love song set in abandoned warehouses and sleeping on the floor on cardboard. "Fell for You" is a garage-rock marvel, filled with sweet harmonies. "Troublemaker" gets you to start chanting the chorus, "Wanna be a troublemaker," almost immediately.

The sharpness of Armstrong's lyrics, combined with Rob Cavallo's slick, modern production, keeps "¡Uno!" moving forward, even as the band looks back to '60s power pop, '70s punk and early '80s new wave for inspiration. What makes "¡Uno!" even more special is its biggest anthems, the rousing "Let Yourself Go" and stomping "Oh Love," could have arrived at any point in the past 40 years and sounded great. They'll sound pretty great in the next 40, too.

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