Green Day are a band who've reached the level where each new album is greeted with anticipation and scrutiny to see where they'll take their music next. After taking a couple of years off and then returning with the announcement that a trilogy of albums was en route, there's more focus than ever on what the band will provide listeners.

The band's latest, '¡Uno!,' may deserve a second look once the whole trilogy arrives, but for now it stands on its own as a mixture of the punk goodness, attitude and heart that their early albums delivered combined with some nods to the straight ahead rock 'n' roll that they grew up on.

The band dials back the political rhetoric to some extent on '¡Uno!,' and puts the focus back on the angst and the joys of the heart, with tracks like 'Stay the Night' and the lead single 'Oh Love' offering variations on the theme that feel perfect for radio. 'Fell for You' is also a mid-album standout, speaking to the nervousness of first love, while 'Sweet 16' is an infectious gem.

But for those not looking to get in touch with their feelings, there's some great rock tracks on this album as well. 'Let Yourself Go' is destined to be a longtime concert favorite, with its blistering aggression, f-bomb filled lyrics, and the full punk scream of Billie Joe Armstrong begging for an audience sing-along to "Gotta let it go / Gotta let it go." And while we're on the subject of sing-alongs, it won't be long before crowds are joining Armstrong with "We're all crazy / You're all crazy" from 'Loss of Control.'

Meanwhile, 'Kill the DJ' finds the band venturing into Franz Ferdinand-like beats; 'Angel Blue' has guitar work reminiscent of the Clash version of 'I Fought the Law'; and 'Troublemaker,' with its chugging Tre Cool drums and clap-along vibe, seems a perfect fit for the live setting.

There's also a sense of familiarity on the album, as the leadoff track 'Nuclear Family' immediately lets you know from the opening drum beats and guitar riff that this is the band you have come to love. This piece of ear candy will be stuck in your head for months and fits perfectly alongside some of their greatest hits. Meanwhile, 'Carpe Diem' is '¡Uno!'s' anthem, with Armstrong belting, "Carpe diem, the battle cry / Are we all too young to die? / Ask a reason and no reply / Are we all too young to die?" With more pointed lyrics like 'Making a living / Making a killing / What's worth forgiving?" the track is one of the strong statements on the record.

All in all, it looks like the reflective '¡Uno!' is the first step to a promising future from the ambitious trilogy project. We can't wait to see how it fits with '¡Dos!'and '¡Tre!.'

4 Stars

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