Green Day's three-album run this year began with the exhilarating, all-aboard-for-funtime blast of ¡Uno!, and now it ends with a symphonic long goodbye. ¡Tré! picks up where its predecessor, ¡Dos!, left off: with a nod to soul pioneer Sam Cooke. "Brutal Love" channels Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me," and its strings and Memphis-style horns deliver grandeur and depth to the song's erotic desperation. The strings return for ¡Tré!'s closing song, "The Forgotten," a five-minute piano ballad that unfolds like a lost track from the second side of Abbey Road. "Don't look away from the arms of love," Billie Joe Armstrong sings, as he brings the trilogy in for a sweet, soft landing.
It's telling that Green Day's effort to pare back after a decade of rock-opera ambitions led to a three-LP meditation on the meaning of rock music right now. On ¡Tré!, the references mount up: Iggy, the Who, the Clash, R.E.M., Bowie, the Stones and so on. Can everything that once seemed so vital really be receding into history? Armstrong's recent onstage meltdown and visit to rehab only lend that question unsettling personal force. These three albums answer those concerns with a resounding No! No band this sprawling, untamable and sheer fun is going anywhere.