Green Day's new millennium elevation to Very Important Band is so complete that when they decided to return to their frivolous punk roots they couldn't do it in a small way. They started to knock out a bunch of garage punk tunes and wound up with not one but three collections of punk-pop: a trilogy entitled ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré!, each released within a couple months of one another. For as many passing references to the Clash as there are on ¡Uno! -- musical and lyrical, with the opening "Nuclear Family" alluding to the riff of "Safe European Home" and "Rusty James" talking about the "last gang in town" -- this is no Sandinista!, as it finds Green Day shrinking their world, not expanding it. This is all power pop and three-chord rockers, the tempo insistent and the hooks spiky and sharp; the only time things let up is at the end with "Oh Love," an arena filler so indebted to the Who that Billie Joe Armstrong winds up referencing "Love Reign O'er Me." Even then, the sound is big, crisp, and clean, as it is throughout ¡Uno!, and that clarity undercuts some of the punkiness of Green Day's intentions. Compared to their busman's holiday Foxboro Hot Tubs, ¡Uno! seems well-pressed and tidy, every note and every rhythm in its right place, and while that inspired recklessness is missed, this brisk, cheerful collection of pop is a relief after the operatic ambitions of 21st Century Breakdown. The hooks fly furiously, the attack is precise -- so precise that the mock dance-rock of "Kill the DJ" almost plays like a Xerox of Franz Ferdinand (it also is the one explicitly political song here, as if the trio members wanted to hide their intentions) -- and the hooks, in both the melodies and riffs, are so huge, they gleefully bludgeon doubters into blissful submission. It's the work not of punks but of road warriors eager to have a new batch of crowd-pleasers out on tour.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine