For Fans Of
When bassist Mark Hoppus exclaimed “Blink-182 is back!” at the 2009 Grammy awards, it was welcome news to diehard fans, while cynics shuddered at the thought of another toilet-humour-riddled pop/punk onslaught.
However 12 months passed by and there was no sign of any new material. Although there was a comeback tour in the interim, people began to think it was some kind of “cash grab” in the wake of the band members respective, yet underachieving, side-project releases.
By the time the world was delivered first single “Up All Night”, fans were champing at the bit. Hoppus and guitarist Tom Delonge tag team the verses, welcoming us back to the distinctive voices (sometimes an acquired taste) that haven’t combined on record since 2003’s Self-Titled album. It leaves you in no uncertain terms that you are listening to Blink-182, despite the intro attempting to mislead you. Although not the strongest comeback single, it is ample preparation for the various styles that feature on Neighborhoods.
There is an ode to the past, with up tempo jams like “Natives” and “Heart’s All Gone”, which would not be out of place on 1997’s major label debut Dude Ranch, if not for Travis Barker’s “more is more” approach to drum tracking. The guitar intro in the former is particularly reminiscent of fan favourite “M&M’s”.
Delonge’s arena rock influence is evident on “Ghost on the Dance Floor” when we’re greeted by lush sounds of an electric organ humming over a filtered guitar striking a repetitive chord, before snapping into that all familiar groove. “Love Is Dangerous” sounds like it was discarded from an Angels and Airwaves writing session, with a synth arpeggio being complimented by vocals richly coated in delay.
Surprisingly album highlight “After Midnight” is a relatively simplistic number. Driven by Barker’s hip hop style looped beat, Hoppus delivers the most memorable chorus of the record. It sounds like Blink-182 covering Brooklyn duo Matt and Kim.
“Wishing Well” and “This is Home” seems to be where we find Delonge at his most comfortable as he effortlessly uses vocal acrobatics to deliver his strongest performances of the album, while Hoppus shines again on the 90’s pop/punk gem “MH 4.18.2011”.
The promising mid tempo range of “Snake Charmer” dabbles in additional instrumentation that’s been synonymous with the band’s later material, although any grand plans the track has are halted by a lacklustre chorus. An extended instrumental outro helps put a positive spin on what is otherwise a relatively forgettable track.
The lowest points come in “Kaleidoscope” and “Fighting the Gravity”, both of which sound like they were thrown together while killing time in the studio and hope Barker’s innovative drumming will save them. It shows that sometimes being too ambitious can backfire and that having an outside producer can help rein in egos when need be. The “Heart’s All Gone Interlude” doesn’t feel like it’s meant to transport you anywhere other than towards the skip button on your stereo.
Given that the majority of the album was recorded at separate times due to individual commitments, credit must go to the members for making it sound so cohesive. There’s enough here to suggest that the creative tanks aren’t running on empty and the trio can continue to merge their distinct influences together, while attempting to stay relevant in todays’ industry. Love it or hate it, Blink-182 is back!
1. Ghost On The Dance Floor
3. Up All Night
4. After Midnight
5. Snake Charmer
6. Heart’s All Gone Interlude
7. Heart’s All Gone
8. Wishing Well
10. This Is Home
11. MH 4.18.2011
12. Love Is Dangerous
13. Fighting The Gravity
14. Even If She Falls