The musical prowess of Blink-182 is vast with the development of their music proving a versatility and intelligence rare in many contemporary American bands.
With a discography that can give many of their peers a run for the money, there are still two distinct ways to approach the assessment of their newest release, “Neighborhoods.” First from the perspective of an avid follower from their beginning or from the standpoint of their well known upbringing into the mass mainstream media. Of course, depending on which perceptive construction one takes, this drastically affects the evaluation of the latest given work.
The roots of the band can be seen in their release “Buddha” (1993), in which a minority of tracks was in turn recorded on their official release “Cheshire Cat” (1994). The sound on these albums was lighter, with a more alternative and punk feeling.
The release of their following album “Dude Ranch” (1997) was where the band showed a more punk side, as well as kept the sense of humor that was apparent in the band preceding. The proceeding albums “Enema of The State” (1998) and “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” (2001) showed even more rebellious spirits in songs such as “Anthem, Anthem Part Two, Give Me One Good Reason, Shut Up, and Reckless Abandon.” They are true punk rock classics.
A point that has always been a signature of Blink-182 is their sense of humor that added a sense of unique style to their works. Examples include a concept song, “Depends,” on the album “Cheshire Cat” that follows someone who has to constantly wear Depends diapers, or the numerous vocal extensions on various tracks throughout “Dude Ranch.” Other instances occur on the numerous spoken introductions and finales to tracks on “The Mark, Tom and Travis Show” (2000), as well as the various hidden tracks released on “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket” (2001) that involve naughty acts with dogs, grandpa or the entire family.
Tom DeLonge (lead guitarist, vocalist) has a tendency to write depressing lyrics – at times poetic, at times abstract. Whether sappy or romantic, they are always very whiny. Above all, though, the lyrics are very melodramatic. Fortunately this appeals to the young and melodramatic crowd.
Mark Hoppus (bass, vocals) has a tendency to write songs that are more straightforward, less whiny and more so when dealing with relationships, mature and universal applying to practically any age group. Unfortunately, on Neighborhoods, the songs clearly written by Hoppus seem to be more abstract if not confusing and somewhat uninspiring.
It is important to note that, with the release of their self-titled album “Blink-182” (2003), the band declared that they were taking a new direction with their music. In efforts to show a greater maturity, much of the toilet humor was toned down or wiped out completely. The punk in the band was refined and exemplified in a few tracks, and overall the themes were darker, akin to the separate band formed by DeLonge, Box Car Racer, who released their self-titled CD in 2002.
While on the topic of independent bands formed by members, Hoppus started Plus-44 with drummer Travis Barker in 2005, which was more rock comparatively to Blink-182. DeLonge’s creation of “Angels and Airwaves” marked a critical emphasis on experimentation regarding sound effects and synthesizers. The reception of such varied however can be summated, via various online responses, to be that of much negativity.
Unfortunately for hard-core fans, the majority of the tracks on “Neighborhoods” sound heavily influenced by “Angels and Airwaves.” It gives a feeling as though Delonge is simply using Blink-182 as a vehicle to extend his own ideas. There are some excellent vocal harmonies on the album provided by Hoppus, and stellar drumming skills from Barker.
For fans that have been following Blink-182 since the beginning, the deviation from their roots can be seen as appalling. For newer fans, they will appreciate “Neighborhoods” as much as works by My Chemical Romance and Good Charlotte.