Review: Blink-182, Neighborhoods

It’s been over a year in the making after a bitter eight year hiatus and this week, pop punk phoenixes, Blink-182 have released a brand new album called ‘Neighborhoods’. But, has it been worth the wait?

Since Blink-182 split in 2005 drummer, Travis Barker, has probably been the busiest member of the band in the past few years, mainly in the hip hop community remixing loads of singles and releasing a hip hop album, ‘Give The Drummer Some’. Guitarist and vocalist, Tom DeLonge, founded an alternative rock band called ‘Angels & Airwaves’ who released three studio albums and bassist and vocalist, Mark Hoppus, teamed up with Travis in a band called ‘+44’ who released one album, ‘When Your Heart Stops Beating’ in 2006.

The album opens strongly with ‘Ghosts On The Dance Floor’, which is reminiscent of a song from Tom and Travis’ side project ‘Box Car Racer’ called ‘There Is’ (in fact the basic structure of the song is almost identical), but also has the sound of vintage Blink from the ‘Take Off Your Pants And Jacket’ album of 2001 with added synth. It continues this theme by speeding up a little into ‘Natives’, a stormer of a song which what I imagine will be a strong live favourite with big sing-along choruses. ‘Up All Night’ was the first song released from the album and was where I first got interested in this new album. Beforehand I wasn’t looking forward to it at all, especially after watching their festival sets from this year. This is a hugely enjoyable slice of old school Blink and easily one of the best tracks on the album.

The obligatory slow-paced ballad,’After Midnight’, follows the stall-setting opening and doesn’t disappoint. It’s slow, quiet verses contrast to the rest of the album but are still anthemic enough to fit into the live set alongside songs like ‘I Miss You’. This dip in tempo doesn’t last long with the injection of speed of ‘Heart’s All Gone’ which delivers a fast pace that could have done with the vocals being less clean as the drums and guitars really chug along at breakneck speed. It seems to disappear in an instant even though it clocks in at three and a quarter minutes. ‘Wishing Well’ incorporates the ‘la-la-la’ vocal style that made them famous in the 90’s with ‘All The Small Things’. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that this will be a big single in the future, it has all the pop ingredients of their particular brand of pop punk. It’s just as strong as ‘Up All Night’.

‘Kaleidoscope’ starts off with an angular guitar riff which is quite different to anything Blink have written, but is sadly under-used throughout the rest of the song. The song itself is a sweeping melodic journey through familiar angst ridden territory. It fades out with a drum loop and a vocal sample which sees the song encapsulate the prevailing feel of the album; being a mixture of the bands’ solo projects, luckily it seems that it all works pretty damn well.

‘This Is Home’ has a melodic synth section that owes a lot to The Cure, but it still has all the hallmarks of the old sound of Blink-182 and clocks in as the shortest song on the album at two minutes 47. Following shortly is the oddly named ‘MH 4.18.2011’, it is one of the faster songs on the album, and seems to have a poignant message to convey, though I’m not exactly sure what.

The closing song on the album is ‘Love Is Dangerous’ which starts off with an electronic drum sample with guitars cutting in with a riff that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Foo Fighters album. But then it all falls away for the singing which is a little 80’s-synthpop-on-helium. It seems a strange choice to put on the end of an album that is so rooted in old Blink-182 sounds with only small hints at a newer sound.

This album could have been a messy car crash of different styles and genres. However, it seems that the trio have managed to pool all of the best elements of these vastly different projects together and the result is surprisingly good, though for my liking there’s almost too much synthesiser and Tom hasn’t quite ditched his emo-tinged vocal style from Angels & Airwaves…I still would rather they sang about fucking dogs in the ass, though they are a vastly different band from their fresh-faced beginnings in the early 90’s.

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2 Responses to “Review: Blink-182, Neighborhoods”

  1. the last paragraph perfectly sums up all my feelings towards blink recently haha. This is a great review man

    (p.s., if you see them in concert, they still play “granpa’s an asshole” and all the other heartwarming songs. I really recommend it if you get the chance, it’s a great show and it feels just like they used to without feeling dated)

    • Thank you very much. They have really pissed a lot of people off over here in the UK by cancelling dates left, right and centre and I fear that might turn some fans against them. If they still play a lot of the old stuff, I would be more interested in seeing them again (for the 4th time).

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