Critical Voices: Blink-182, Neighborhoods

September 29, 2011

After eight long years of uncertainty and chaos, Blink-182 has returned with Neighborhoods, the group’s first full-length album since 2003. Though numerous botched attempts at a comeback seemed to signal the band’s dying moments, Neighborhoods explodes from the ashes of heated arguments and broken friendships to proudly declare, as vocalist Mark Hoppus did at the 51st Grammy Awards, “Blink-182 is back!”
Indeed, the group picks up where it left off, with drummer Travis Barker’s intricate and explosive beats paving the way for lead singer Tom DeLonge’s unmistakable voice on album openers “Ghost on the Dance Floor” and “Native.” But while Blink-182’s trademark punk-pop style remains the same, Neighborhoods provides some evidence of musical growth. The electronic tones slithering through the intros and outros of “Snake Charmer” and “Up All Night” add a new soul to the band’s much-awaited rebirth.
Even with the addition of a few new sounds, Neighborhoods is missing the carefree irresponsibility of Dude Ranch or the mindless absurdity of Enema of the State. That silliness has given way to tremendous, choking melancholia. It’s made tolerable only by tracks like “Heart’s All Gone,” whose breakneck pace highlights the band’s unchanged mastery of simple guitar riffs.
This pattern breaks with “Fighting The Gravity,” a cosmic-sounding electronic piece rooted in an awareness of senselessness and emotional loss. The album veers slightly from its emo tilt at the start of “This Is Home” and “MH 4.18.2011,” but both tracks quickly devolve into silly whining about societal problems. It’s hard not to groan when Hoppus sings, “Hold on, the worst is yet to come.”
But while the lyrics may be up for criticism, Neighborhoods proves Blink-182 hasn’t lost its ability to create satisfying pop-rock tunes. A little older, and perhaps slightly wiser, the band still possesses its trademark energy and charm, even if the juvenile sex humor is mostly gone. Now all we need is a new Alien Ant Farm album.

Kirill Makarenko
Former Assistant Leisure Editor


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