(Taken with picplz.)
Bit of a disaster for me in the opening ARL round! Qualified right up there but was running back in 8th during a wet race with two laps remaining when I got disconnected. Fucking Windows 98.
Bateman, a man’s best friend.
It’s been a tumultuous time for Blink-182 in the period that has elapsed since they last dropped a studio album in 2003. In the seven years since their eponymous record, the band initiated an “indefinite hiatus”, formed several side-projects, and lost their inspirational producer Jerry Finn to a brain hemorrhage. If that wasn’t enough, they almost lost their very own iconic stickman Travis Barker that same year. These mammoth tragedies led the trio to brush aside the bitterness that lead to their nasty break-up and play music together again. Shattered friendships reformed and with a new lease of life, the band have delivered Neighborhoods. Much like the tragic events that lead to their reincarnation, Neighborhoods can be described as beautifully dysfunctional. It is a record that is flawed, if only slightly. But its also a record that is wonderfully diverse and expansive, too. This, their sixth studio album, is a natural progression from their aforementioned 2003 record. Sure, there are clear musical elements taken from their respective side-projects. Some might call it an identity crisis. But the fact is, this is who Blink-182 are in 2011. Old-school fans need not worry though, because as ever, there is a wonderful pop sensibility running throughout. The album is catchy and uplifting, despite the obvious bleakness and pain in the lyrics. One thing you can be sure of is that the Mark, Tom and Travis show isn’t about fucking dogs anymore. Hoppus, the bands deep voiced bassist, contributes to most of the “throwback” aesthetics found on Neighborhoods. “Heart’s All Gone” is a ferocious punk rock assault. “MH 4.18.2011” is a more refined and polished version of the bands archetypal pop punk. Hoppus’ refrain of “stop living in the shadow of a helicopter” is borderline genius. “Fighting the Gravity”, another Hoppus composition, is the most experimental track on the record. “This makes no sense” he tells us, in a layered, ghostly vocal pattern. It doesn’t, but the track is amongst the albums best and draws stark comparison to +44’s moody “Weatherman”. DeLonge on the other hand, delves into some of his grand rock ideas explored in Angels and Airwaves. While “Ghost on the Dancefloor” is a perfectly decent tune, it feels slightly awkward and is ultimately an underwhelming opener. “Love is Dangerous” though, is delightful. Spacey and progressive, its ideally married with some chiming guitar tones and haunting synthesiser. “Wishing Well” and the other synth-heavy jam “This is Home” are lively and resonant with various “la la la’s” and “da da da’s” providing huge vocal hooks. The truth is, Blink-182 reach their true apex when the two vocalists work in unison. “After Midnight” builds from DeLonge’s ethereal guitar melodies, allowing Hoppus to take over for for its anthemic chorus. “Kaleidoscope” works in the exact same way, but the other way round. “Snake Charmer” is a wonderful hybrid of old and new. It’s rampaging opening riffs give way to a stripped back verse of rumbling bass and a minor piano key. Then, like a time warp, the chorus is a huge earworm that could have been pulled straight from Enema of the State. Despite the several artistic directions taken on Neighborhoods, the album is cohesive and consistent. One thing worth nothing is that the band have taken the decision to release “standard” and “deluxe” versions of the record. While a completely normal thing to do, “deluxe editions” are usually made up of rare b-sides and covers. Here though, fans picking up the standard copy will not get to hear the likes of “Snake Charmer”, the delicate instrumental “Interlude”, and the aforementioned “Fighting the Gravity”. Its puzzling because Neighborhoods is a better album with the full 14 tracks sequenced in this order and offers a fuller artistic statement. That said, you would also presume most fans would have already opted for the extended version. Either way, just having the trio making music again is a rush in itself. Let’s just hope its not another seven years until they put out new music.
Posted by Cal Lewis on 30 September 2011.
Massive tune from the brand new NFG record. Wow, that riff and chorus. Huge.