After the ambitious one-two punches of "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown," Green Day couldn't help but retract its grandiose visions. Trapped by the expectation of event..." />
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Music reviews: Green Day, No Doubt

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Green Day, "¡Uno!" (Reprise) Half star
No Doubt, "Push and Shove" (Interscope) 3<br />
stars

greendayuno.jpgAfter the ambitious one-two punches of "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown," Green Day couldn't help but retract its grandiose visions. Trapped by the expectation of event albums, though, they pull back to their simple power-pop roots by releasing not one, not two, but three albums within the course of the next few months. The first, "¡Uno!" (to be followed by, of course, "¡Dos!" on Nov. 13 and the hopefully all drum-solo album "¡Tré!" on Jan. 13) doesn't make the case for why we need two more platters of this very safe, very crisp and very clean pop-rock. Scrubbed free of any intellectual ideals and delving into only the shallowest of romantic depths, "¡Uno!" doesn't even rate that many stars. If I had to play this anti-punk pablum, I'd freak out on stage, too.

nodoubtpush.jpgNo Doubt, however, surprises with a template for precisely how to age gracefully and embrace one's roots with respectable modesty and devilish dignity. "Push and Shove," the quartet's first album in more than 10 years (as Gwen Stefani sings on the aching "One More Summer," "I can't believe it -- has it really been this long?"), is a return to form that avoids nearly every pitfall inherent in such a project, dipping back into their inspirational well of '80s pop and dancehall music (and, here, more reggae) without drowning in it, all the while weaving in contemporary sounds (Major Lazer shows up on the title single, sounding perfectly in sync) without pandering. Their hit-making days may be behind them, but -- like the Pretenders, perhaps -- their later act looks to be just as satisfying.


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Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.

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