Thursday, October 6, 2011
BLINK 182: NEIGHBORHOODS
It's been a tough few years for Blink 182. Since their bitter 2005 breakup they've dealt with tragedy like a fat man that pissed off an old gypsy woman - or "fucked with some witch". They've seen it all, from the death of friend and longtime collaborator Jerry Finn and Tom DeLonge's skin cancer scare, to Travis Barker's near death experience, even nearer amputation threat and the death of DJ AM. That's why fans hoping for another Dude Ranch can ride off into the sunset, back to 1997. But, eight years in the making, is Neighborhoods any good?
As an album, things seems staggeringly top heavy. The best moments happen early on, with tracks like "Ghost On the Dancefloor", "Natives" and "After Midnight". Towards the end, it starts to sound like a Mark +44 track followed by a Tom Angels & Airwaves track, followed by some more +44 and so on. The last few songs just seem to wash over. Nothing sticks like "Ghost On the Dancefloor" or Tom's Boxcar Racer "Up All Night" riff.
Overall, the new Blink 182 sound best when Mark and Tom are interacting, trading lines and working off each other. And as much as I like the tempo and energy of it, second single "Heart's All Gone" sounds more +44 than Blink 182. It's all Mark Hoppus. Likewise, "Love Is Dangerous" is all Angels & Airwaves (even the song title reeks of AVA). As such, it's the worst song on the album.
Also, for a band that's back together, "friendships reformed... 17 years deep in their legacy", the recording process sounds pretty weird: with Tom recording at his studio in San Diego, Mark and Travis tracking at their Los Angeles studio space and various engineers meeting up to "trade hard drives" in secrecy. Still, the production's powerful and dramatic, from the awesome bass tones and drum sounds to the guitars and the scope of the mix. But like I say, towards the end, Neighborhoods starts to sound less like a band and more like two one minded individuals' visions for the future.
Barker, as usual, sounds awesome - the guy's a drum God! And this time, he's spiced things up to perfection. Mark sounds good as well, when he's not playing the sad, emotional indie character with the Robert Smith hair he's created for Hoppus on Music (like on "Fighting the Gravity"). Tom's the one that's changed the most. From his dress sense to his new approach to singing. And if I could change one thing on the album it would be his vocal delivery. Sometimes it's just too much. Too Angels & Airwaves. And if you can't tell already, I really, really dislike Angels & Airwaves.
To clarify, overall, I like Neighborhoods. I really like the first four tracks - a lot. And the rest of the album has it's moments...