Blink-182 Neighborhoods Review

In celebration of the end of its extensive hiatus, iconic pop-punk trio Blink-182 has released Neighborhoods, its first album in eight years. The band indefinitely called it quits in 2005, predominately due to the deviant artistic intentions of guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge. In the wake of the disbandment, DeLonge formed the band Angels and Airwaves while the remaining members vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker formed +44. Their hiatus was seemingly permanent until a devastating plane crash in September of 2008 left Barker in critical condition and the estranged members reconvened over the tragedy. Amends were made, and the band elected to hit the road in 2009 for a reunion tour. This fall, eight years after it’s last LP Blink-182, the band released its highly anticipated new album Neighborhoods.

The band’s 2003 self-titled LP is a satisfying hybrid of experimental style and their traditional, bubblegum punk flare. Neighborhoods, on the other hand, is fused with a mere trace of the band’s former brash youthfulness. Maturity is inevitable, but how much is too much? The members who had once penned playful songs inspired by care-free adolescence, are now well into their 30’s. The frequent sexual innuendos and self-deprecating humor that populated albums like Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket are nowhere to be found.

Now that they’re all grown up, and aptly classified as middle aged, the members of the band are bent on musical growth. As demonstrated on Neighborhoods, maturity is not always beneficial.

It’s not to say that the album is an absolute train wreck, for it contains several redeeming qualities and a handful of noteworthy tracks. It’s inconsistently good, especially when contrasted with the mega successful
albums the band churned out at the height of its success.

Throughout the album, there is an unmistakable influence of DeLonge’s U2 rip-off side project Angels & Airwaves, and an uneven distribution of vocal parts between the two vocalists. DeLonge’s vocal contributions greatly exceed those made by Hoppus. Redundancy is prevalent, as several of the songs sound indistinguishably similar.

The album opens with “Ghost on the Dance floor” a pulsating track worthy of stadium status that falsely represents the album’s essence. “Natives” is initially promising, though it quickly amounts to chaos. The vocals are monotonous, and the lyrics are painfully cliché.

“Up All Night” the prominent single, is an energetic anthem reminiscent of old staples like “Anthem Part Two”. The song features a riveting instrumental “beat down” emphatically bursting with Joy Division tendencies. Other highlights include “Wishing Well” a nostalgic tune with an infectious pop refrain and “After Midnight”.

The individual musicianship of the members is proficiently adequate, though the collective style feels too forced. Travis Barker is better than ever, and the other two have improved substantially upon their technique. All in all, it simply does not work for them. It’s as if they’re trying too hard to meet the expectations that coincide with getting older. Neighborhoods is not the Blink-182 that I know. I admire their noble efforts to mature; I just wish that they wouldn’t.

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