Releasing three albums in as many months—as Green Day is, with ¡Dos! being the second—can’t be easy. The band’s professed goal for this ambitious trilogy is for the first installment (September’s ¡Uno!) to be power pop, ¡Dos! to be garage rock, and the upcoming ¡Tre! to be some kind of mixed bag. Bassist Mike Dirnt has cited the stress of the undertaking as a large factor in frontman Billie Joe Armstrong entering rehab. This development ought to add a little resonance to ¡Dos!’s final song, “Amy,” a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. Unfortunately, sentiment isn’t enough to salvage the song; featuring Armstrong solo on keening vocals and reverbed guitar, “Amy” is clearly meant to sound like a loving hybrid of Winehouse’s retro style and Green Day’s… well, retro style. Instead, it’s listless—and worse, it renders Winehouse as little more than the object of Armstrong’s juvenile fixation and lousy poetry: “Is your heart singing out of tune? / Are your eyes just singing the blues?”
Not content merely to pay homage to Winehouse, Armstrong decides to mimic her on “Nightlife,” the low point of ¡Dos! Dipping his toe into slinky, slightly distorted R&B, the song is downright embarrassing—and that’s before the clunky, corny rapping comes in, courtesy of Lady Cobra of Mystic Knights Of The Cobra. Inexplicably, “Nightlife” is immediately preceded by a track titled “Lady Cobra” on which Lady Cobra does not appear. Not that that’s cause for complaint. The song is weak enough without outside help, as Green Day shamelessly imitates The White Stripes. (Lines like “Do you want to play a game of Twister / Like a dirty old man with a babysitter?” don’t help.)
The garage-rock angle of ¡Dos! wouldn’t be so laughable if it were done with at least a touch of joy. Instead, Armstrong and crew feel like they’re writing a paper on the genre rather than celebrating it in song. “Fuck Time” is a low-carb version of The Hives, “Lazy Bones” lazily borrows from The Strokes, and “Makeout Party” should win an award for making the primal, indelible riff from The Stooges’ “1969” utterly toothless. And when “Stray Heart” appropriates—wait for it—the beat from Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life,” it’s hard to believe Armstrong is doing anything other than meeting a deadline. While the album includes a couple of rousing songs—including the punchy, new-wave-ish “Ashley,” which would have been much more at home on ¡Uno!—¡Dos! is the sophomore slump of a trilogy that’s shaping up to be far less fun than it was supposed to be.