The second chapters of trilogies generally end up being the most exciting. With the origin story told by way of the first chapter and the crescendoed action leading to a conclusion in the third chapter, the second act packs more punch, more rising action and sees the players involved more settled into their own skin. The Empire Strikes Back, Back To The Future Part II and Evil Dead II are all generally regarded as the best entries of their respective series.
Album trilogies don’t quite work in the same way as film trilogies do, however, especially if there’s little to no overarching narrative present. Music is a more immediate medium than film, and as such the first entry is probably the most important and exciting. So maybe it’s not a huge surprise that as both a part of a trilogy and as a standalone LP, Green Day’s ¡Dos! is mostly underwhelming. In the cases of 2004’s American Idiot and 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, Green Day’s ambition and scope was most of the appeal; that they could write more or less the same three-chord pop-punk songs they’d been writing for years and make them feel like events without sacrificing catchiness or accessibility was impressive. With this trilogy, the scope has been severely decreased, but the band somehow want the grandeur from their previous two records to remain part of their aesthetic, even when it just doesn’t fit the music at all.
Another issue with a trilogy of albums is that ideas inevitably become recycled and there’s a greater chance for filler. That’s the case throughout the ¡Uno! / ¡Dos! / ¡Tre! trifecta in varying degrees, but ¡Dos! contains far more than the other two entries. The plodding tempos of “Wild One,” “Makeout Party” and “Wow! That’s Loud,” among others, all have a been-there-done-that feel; these songs just don’t have enough character to emerge from the background.
When Green Day experiment a bit on ¡Dos!, the results are even more negative than when they play it safe. “It’s Fuck Time” is so cartoonish, so dumb and so needlessly vulgar that it sounds like a song a fake band would be performing at the wedding reception scene of an R-rated comedy, as opposed to a song being performed by a very real band, and one of the biggest bands in the world at that. The electronically-tinged “Nightlife,” featuring Lady Cobra, is a blatantly misguided attempt at a vapid pop song written by a band that’s become too big to fail, too massive for anyone around them to reel them in.
Though few and far between, there are some bright spots on ¡Dos!: “Stop When The Red Lights Flash” is full of concentrated riffs and huge vocal hooks that have become synonymous with the best moments of latter-era Green Day; “Lazy Bones” contains one of the most massive choruses the band have penned in years; “Stray Heart” is anchored by a bouncy bass line from Mike Dirnt, classically-tinged drums from Tre Cool and jangly guitar upstrokes from Billie Joe Armstrong that converge to create a clearly Elvis Costello-influenced power-pop gem.
As a follow-up to ¡Uno!—which is looking better by the day and is, in fact, the best album in this trilogy—¡Dos! underwhelms. As a second chapter in this larger trilogy, it fades into the background; While ¡Uno! is an above-average, “return to form” pop-punk record and the risks on ¡Tre! are more calculated and interesting, ¡Dos! doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, and that ends up being its biggest hindrance.