Review: Blink 182: Neighborhoods

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Reviews

"Neighborhoods" marks the return of Blink 182 (I do not own this image)

Late ‘90s, early 2000s power-punk band Blink 182’ first album since 2003, Neighborhoods, just barely lives up to fans’ low expectations.  And how could anyone hope it to be any better?  In those eight years, guitarist Tom Delonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have worked in other projects, narrowly escaped death, had kids, and hosted their own TV shows.  The beauty of Blink’s earlier albums, specifically 1999’s Enema of the State and 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket is that the band was young: they could still rant about their high-school girlfriends and glorify having sex with dogs.  They can’t really do that anymore and still take themselves seriously.

Now that the members are “older and more mature” they get to sing about finding love, the meaning of life, sinning and lots of other sophisticated themes that Blink fans really don’t care about.  Delonge seems to have really taken control of the band recently, as he sings on the majority of the songs.  Songs on Neighborhoods also significantly resemble those by Tom Delonge’s other project, Angels and Airwaves, a clear fact that causes every true Blink fan’s blood to curdle.  His voice is pretty heavily auto-tuned, which pre-Angels and Airwaves Blink would never have done.  Also, since when does Blink use keyboards that are louder than the guitar?  It really takes the edge away from their songs, something that is really special and unique about their older music.

Nonetheless, there are some good songs on Neighborhoods, an album whose sound Delonge tried to make resemble that of 1980’s rock band, The Police. Despite its poppy keyboards and synths, the upbeat opening track, “Ghost on the Dance Floor,” is a really strong way to start the album.  The second song, “Natives,” whose complex guitar riff greatly resembles that off Enema of the State’s “Dumpweed,” flows in perfectly.  So far, the album is sounding really good.  That feeling remains for the next two songs: the hard-rocking lead single, “Up All Night,” and the poppy but contemplative “After Midnight,” which could easily fit on Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.  These songs do not, however, compare to the perfection of older hits like “All the Small Things,” or “First Date.”

With the arrival of the fifth track, “Snake Charmer,” the lyrics and originality of the record begins to dwindle.  The following “Heart’s All Gone Interlude” is an unnecessary introduction to Mark Hoppus’ all-out punk jam, “Heart’s All Gone,” one of the album’s best efforts.  The next three songs are pretty weak and resemble Angel and Airwaves’ sound way too much for a Blink 182 album. One of these, “Kaleidoscope,” another song on which Mark takes the lead vocal position, has a good riff and chorus, but what is with Tom’s echoing vocals for the last thirty seconds? And the album could end with “This is Home,” one of those three weak tracks, but the trio has to follow the Deluxe-Edition trend and slam on four more Angels and Airwaves-esque tracks that add very little to Neighborhoods. You do have to hand it to Travis Barker, who really powers the record with some amazing beats and fills.  His drum tracks are certainly a highlight.

Though it is nice to hear new Blink, Neighborhoods, which dropped eight (yes, eight!) years after the eponymous release, just does not compare to the band’s former masterpieces.  Will Blink ever be the same?  Probably not.  Will Blink be missed?  Yes!

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