Release Date: 06.12.01
Record label: uni / mca
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Acting Their Age?
by: matt halverson
If MTV's TRL were a high school party, Blink-182 would be the uninvited gate-crashers who spent the night trying to get the family dog drunk. While the Christinas and Justins of the Bubble Gum Clique preened and pondered their popularity, the guys from Blink stood in the corner telling fart jokes and laughing to themselves. And after years of sneaking in the backdoor of the teeny-bopper shindig, they found their names on the guest list thanks to a string of pop-punk hits from 1999's Enema of the State. Now with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, they'll be the first to get an invite.
The third studio effort from the Blink boys is a raucous pop-punk trip down memory lane, recalling all the bad girlfriends, bad break-ups and bad acne high school had to offer. Amidst Tom DeLonge's nasaly vocals and speed-freak guitar, Mark Hoppus' driving bass and Travis Barker's unrelenting drums, Blink-182 has a knack for taking those uncomfortable pubescent moments that we all endured and helping us realize they weren't as earth-shattering as we thought they were. Regardless of how many failed relationships they may have had, they don't have much trouble tattooing their pain on their arms. Take Off's songs run the relationship gamut from the crush ("The Rock Show") to the inevitable break-up ("Roller Coaster"). And who can't identify with the sweaty-palmed excitement of "First Date"? Picking out the right clothes and getting your hair just right was almost as stressful as that first fumbling kiss.
Lamenting your shitty life is nothing new for a rock 'n roll band, but Blink-182 finds a way to never let the somber subjects weigh the music down. Generation X wallowed in its teen angst along with Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but after awhile Eddie's whining about fame and popularity just got depressing, and we all know what happened to Kurt. Bored by the heady notions of grunge, Generation TRL doesn't want to waste time worrying about its problems when there are friends to two-way page. It likes its sorrow infused with pop and shrink-wrapped in humor. In keeping with the evolution of emotional pain, Take Off's complaints rarely stray far from "This sucks," and for every song about rejection, there's another about being happy that the bitch is gone. And of course what would a Blink-182 album be without the raunch? In less than a minute's worth of neck-snapping punk, "Happy Holidays, You Bastard" ("I'll never talk to you again / Unless your mom will touch my cock") proves they still know what makes teenagers laugh.
What makes Take Off an impressive step in Blink's burgeoning maturity, though, is that for all its light-hearted obsessing over dating and diarrhea, it reveals a serious side not evident in previous efforts. Accepting the mantle of the Lorax of high school misfits ("I speak for the dweebs!"), they find time to look outside the classroom for once and see that all is not right with the world ("Anthem Part II"). There's even the surprisingly touching "Stay Together For the Kids," which might not make it any easier for kids to watch their parents split up, but at least it will show them rock stars know what it's like to come from a broken home too.
Take Off Your Pants and Jacket may not do anything more than give Blink-182 an outlet for joking about being uncool, but who couldn't use a little humor to wash away bad memories of high school? As pop radio continues to be inundated by too many teens playing the part of grown-ups, it's nice to see some rock stars are comfortable acting like kids.