Known as one of the primary pioneers in the pop punk genre, Blink-182 fell off the map for five years, an agonizingly long time for a fan base devastated when news of the band’s indefinite hiatus first surfaced back in early 2005. Their last album was the terrific self-titled Blink-182 two years before that. So anticipation for this legendary group’s sixth studio album was at an all-time high in the months leading up to its release. Would Blink-182 live up to the hype and deliver another enjoyable and profane dose of pop punk typical of the band? Or would they fail to live up to the unreal amount of expectation? Answering that question is Neighborhoods, an all-around enjoyable effort that has its flaws, but certainly doesn’t disappoint either. After years of waiting, Neighborhoods delivers a new chapter of Blink-182, so even though it’s not the finest album the band has ever produced, it retains enough of that lovable Blink-182 sound to appease long-time fans and newcomers alike.
“Natives” sounds like it could have been pulled off of any of Blink-182’s older albums: Travis Barker’s complex and incredibly infectious drum rhythm sets the upbeat tempo, Mark Hoppus’ prominent, twangy bass hook provides the ground layer and Tom DeLonge’s scaling guitar riffs build up the anticipation to make this an instant delight. DeLonge’s patented nasally vocals feel as welcome and enjoyable as ever for each energetic verse while Hoppus’ deep-toned and reserved vocals counterbalance the buoyant chorus as he delivers the same type of fun yet profound lyrics fans expect from Blink-182: “I’m just a bastard child, don’t let it go to your head / I’m just a waste of your time, maybe I’m better off dead / You turn us loose in the night, I’m f**king Jekyll and Hyde / We’ll have the time of our lives although we’re dying inside / So let me go.”
Following the invigorating “Natives” is “Up All Night,” one of the heavier songs the band has ever written. The opening atmospheric guitar riffs are outmatched only by DeLonge’s echoing vocals for each bridge, but the lighter choruses end with Blink-182 rocking out to humming guitar riffs and pounding drums. The interplay between the two vocalists is enjoyable as always as the band delivers another surprisingly insightful and reflective track that somehow comes off as pleasant fun. But despite the heavier nature and the catchy chorus, DeLonge provides one of the more sincere and introspective choruses of the album when he says, “Did I get this straight? Do you want me here / As I struggle through each and every year / And all these demons, they keep me up all night.”
“After Midnight” is one of the album’s mellower tracks, slowing down the tempo to add an easygoing and heartfelt track that speaks truth about late nights, troubled relationships and youth in general, areas that Blink-182 has always been proficient in. Hoppus once again handles the choruses which are set up perfectly by DeLonge for each calm verse.
Blink-182’s reformation generated a lot of excitement and rightfully so. But their triumphant return isn’t quite as glorious as some would have hoped for. Neighborhoods is highly enjoyable and provides fans with a new batch of lovable singles that will surely be played on repeat along with their hits of the past. But it is also a flawed and short experience. One would think that after waiting eight years for a new album, there’d be more than ten songs once the band finally regrouped and gave fans a taste of new music. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as Neighborhoods leans more toward the short and sweet category with the fast-paced “Heart’s All Gone” and the atmospheric closer “Love Is Dangerous.” Fans of bands like Green Day, New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Angels & Airwaves, +44, Taking Back Sunday and Sum 41 should be familiar with this endearing style of pop punk, even if it doesn’t last as long as it should. Ultimately, Blink-182’s long-awaited return is well worth the wait. But anyone who was expecting the band’s reformation to provide their defining work may be disappointed: this is no Enema Of The State and this is not Blink-182. But it is a fresh and exciting new dose of Blink-182 that will surely please anyone eagerly hoping for the band’s return.
Final Score: 7/10
Rank: 4th (six total albums)
- Ghosts On The Dance Floor
- Up All Night
- After Midnight
- Heart’s All Gone
- Wishing Well
- This Is Home
- MH 4.18.2011
- Love Is Dangerous