Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: Geffen
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Punk/New Wave, Punk Revival, Punk-Pop, Skatepunk
Do not expect to see Blink-182 streaking through the Nineties-nostalgia party. Twelve years ago, Blink blew up with bubblegum thrash that injected a Porky's populism into punk's obsession with the ickiness of sex. But on their first album in eight years, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus sound grown-up and serious: "Everyone raises kids in a world that changes life to a bitter game," they note over the emo-tinged metal of "Up All Night." It's like Stifler from American Pie went all Revolutionary Road on our ass.
So here it is, Neighborhoods, the inevitable reunion album, delivered eight years after blink-182’s last album, six years after Tom DeLonge indulged his U2 worship via Angels & Airwaves, five years after Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker whiled away their time with +44, and two years after the trio re-formed for a tour, igniting the long fuse that led to this sixth blink-182 album. Produced by the three blinkers themselves, Neighborhoods certainly is a different beast than any of the cheerfully snotty early blink-182 albums, as the band picks up the gloomy thread left hanging on its eponymous 2003 album, the one that was connected ever so slightly to “Stay Together for the Kids,” the hit from 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket that signaled some deeper emotions behind the goofy façade. Very little of that slapstick is retained on Neighborhoods; it’s been replaced by atmospheric echoes stripped from Angels & Airwaves, a pretension from DeLonge that’s given form and a pulse by Barker and Hoppus.
Tense. A word that describes the mood of any number of interviews with the members of Blink-182 over the past year during the writing and recording process of their first album in eight years, Neighborhoods. It’s easy to assume that some wounds may still remain from the band’s messy collapse in 2005, but aside from the current state of the band’s friendship, much more has changed in the lives of Mark, Tom, and Travis since their self-titled 2003 release.
With their first LP since 2003, it feels like [a]Blink-182[/a] basically had two options. They could re-embrace the poop gags and Red Bull-soaked riffs that had won them millions of fans all over the plane,t or they could keep going with the taste for experimentalism that they found on their last album, their deadly serious self-titled record. With sixth record [b]’Neighborhoods'[/b], they’ve attempted to straddle both.While there are no songs about shagging dogs, there are no six-minute experiments or awkward duets either.
The pop-punk demigods’ cliff walk between teenage bedroom angst and been-there-survived-that worldliness remains steadfast, but the peaks on Neighborhoods — their first disc in eight years — do little more than recall past triumphs. Outside of some latent goth leanings (”This Is Home”) and a gauzy detour (”Ghost on the Dance Floor”), it’s mostly twitch-crunch-whine-repeat. The lyrics focus on moving on, but their music can’t seem to break the tether to yesterday.
It’s no secret that Blink-182 grew up quite some time ago. 2003’s self-titled album had nary a dick or fart joke, the band’s trademark toilet humor replaced by New Wave murk and songs increasingly focused on alienation, broken homes, and relationships gone sour. And while the pop punk pioneers had never steered away from heavier subject matter (listen to “Cacophony” off of Cheshire Cat for early evidence of catchy mopery), it was always peppered between smart aleck-y sneers about Star Wars, masturbation, and grandparents shitting their pants on Labor Day.
When blink-182 went on hiatus in 2005, its three members each pursued their passion project: Tom DeLonge formed Angels & Airwaves, answering the question of what you got when you combined U2, The Cure, and regular blink-182 (the answer, it turns out, is a couple of half-decent Warped Tour singalong singles, borderline unlistenable albums, and a slot opening up for a depressingly chipper Weezer). Mark Hoppus, meanwhile, took his free time as an opportunity to school the kids on every single entry-level alt band he’d been listening to. Travis Barker, meanwhile, decided that he wanted to be the most famous studio drummer in all the land.
Review Summary: Dammit.There’s something going on here. This isn’t a Blink-182 album as I understood the term. To me, a Blink-182 album always seemed playful. Even the last record, which found maturity cracking through the pop-counterculture artificiality of the Mark, Tom, and Travis show, claimed adolescence.
Blink-182 isn’t a band well-suited for maturity; they’re at their best when their tone is bratty and juvenile and their pop hooks are polished and massive. And like many rock acts who have awkwardly attempted to step into adulthood, Blink-182 leans too heavily on “prog” and gloomy images as substitutes for depth on Neighborhoods, their first studio album in eight years. It’s not that the members of Blink-182 haven’t had opportunities to grow up over the last decade, given the series of difficult personal and professional catastrophes that have befallen them.
If you’re anything like me and Blink-182 formed a (semi-)important part of your musical upbringing, they will forever possess a certain charm, a reminder of mis-spent youth and seemingly endless knob gags. From Cheshire Cat’s to-the-point adolescent punk to the beguiling anthems of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, Blink’s musical output has provided so many with nostalgic and occasionally guilty pleasures across the board. Contrary to the often frivolous nature of earlier material, 2003’s self-titled record proved that the band could also do serious without pretence or a lack of inspiration and they could also do a pretty good job of it...
An unexpectedly great sixth LP from former fun-time punks turned introspective souls. Mike Diver 2011 When a band announces an indefinite hiatus, as baggy-shorted pop-punk funsters Blink-182 did in 2005 after five LPs and a few circumventions of the globe, they usually never return. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Fugazi, and still waiting.) And when tragedy strikes that band, those chances of a comeback become slimmer still.
Typically, we here at AP review albums based off of advance music provided to us by the band, their label or their management company, either physically or digitally. This ensures that the reviewer in question is receiving the album exactly as intended, instead of potentially lossy sound files that are mislabeled and out of order. However, we feel it's important to admit the following: This review of Blink-182's comeback album, Neighborhoods, was reviewed off the leak of the record, which we downloaded last week.