Review Summary: The album sounds a bit like Angels and Airwaves and +44 at times...but the album is named "Neighborhoods" for just that reason. This is a scared band trying to re-light the candle some horrible argument blew out many moons ago...
A lot of the negative to slight reception "Neighborhoods" recieved this past week has too much to do with the album either sounding too much like Angels and Airwaves or too little like their old material. The truth is, the songs fit perfectly with their discography. I'm happy to report that the album sounds just like their old work with the addition of a few new instruments. In fact, most of the experimental cuts that do divert away from the band's normal sound are actually BONUS tracks only featured in the Deluxe Version of the album.
First of all, the album is called "Neighborhoods" to emphasize the differences in sound each member acquired over an eight year career beginning after the band's 'break-up' in 2003. These are the 'neighborhoods' the band members came to know over the last decade. And with the recent death of their inspirational producer (of Enema and Take Off Your Pants fame), Blink should be expected to experiment a little more heavily with this new release. Nobody is going to coach Tom and Mark about their lyrics. Nobody is going to clean up the mess their sound creates. Technically, it's a mixed bag of good and average, but I kind of loved it. In fact, I can't stop listening to it.
Blink-182 is a competent band that has an ear for catchy melodies and building atmosphere. Their singers have very distinct voices and their drummer is just perfect for the job. These are the same guys who wrote Adam's Song and What's My Age Again. These are the same guys who sang about rock shows and first dates...and growing up.
A lot of the energy of the band's old albums is still present here in songs like Mh. 4.18.2011, This is Home, Heart's All Gone and Even If She Falls. Natives hits hard as the record's second track with the best vocal performances by both Mark and Tom. I love the chorus in this song. After Midnight is a slow and sweetly charming song, actually. It kind of reminds me of Taking Back Sunday's excellent This Is All Now from their most recent effort. I love the pre-chorus that features Tom Delonge's lyrics "Bite your lips, your words are robbery. Do you grin inside? You're killing me. And all along we've talked of forever. I kind of think that we won't get better." Snake Charmer is a strong song as well. Perhaps too much of the album features Tom singing most of the verses and half of the choruses - but it has been stated in interviews that Tom wanted this project to be very experimental (which it very obviously is), while Mark's portion feels more like the Blink-182 we grew up loving. It's not a bad thing. Mark actually dominated "Dude Ranch." Tom sang maybe three songs. No complaints here.
Blink-182 is an old band. So, what could I possibly demand from them? Should I just be thankful they still exist? Maybe. After 8 years, three or four bands and a break up later.....Blink is trying to take a step forward with "Neighborhoods." They're trying new things which is what makes these old bands successful. Look at Eminem with his album "Recovery." He won a grammy thinking outside of the box. If nothing else, this is a good middle album for the band...and perhaps even a warm-up for something HUGE to come.