Review Summary: Neighborhoods is a dark, serious affair that sees Blink-182 beginning to expand their sound.
When Blink-182 broke up in 2005, fans across the world were distraught. Drummer Travis Barker, vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge, and bassist mark Mark Hoppus were moving on and no one knew when or even if a new Blink-182 album would ever be released.
Then in September of 2008, Barker was involved in a plane crash that left him with third degree burns covering his torso and lower body. During Barker’s recovery, Hoppus and DeLonge visited him and all three of them began to patch up their differences.
And all of a sudden it happened.
In February of 2009, Blink-182 announced they were getting back together. Fans everywhere rejoiced, but with reservations. Would Blink-182 go back to their roots, putting out a pure pop-punk album that made up their main body of early work? Or would they continue the more mature sound that they had established on their self-titled album in 2003?
People who were hoping this record was going to be Blink-182’s glorious return to their immature pop-punk are going to be sorely disappointed. There are no joke tracks on the album. Every song drips with loss, pain, and brooding emotions, and even some of the lighter, happier sounding songs like “Wishing Well,” are peppered with lyrics like,
“I went to a wishing well, I sank to the ocean floor
Cut up by sharper rocks and washed up along the shore
I reached for a shooting star, it burned a hole through my hand.”
For some, this is a huge negative. But for many who enjoyed Blink-182’s self-titled album, there is a lot to be salvaged here. The lyrics deal with everything from failed relationships to anger at forces outside of personal control to even death. This is not a happy album, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one.
One thing you’ll notice on the album is the profound Angels & Airwaves (A&A) influence from DeLonge’s time with them. His vocals don’t sound nearly as urgent in most songs as they did back in Blink’s heyday. Instead, they have the more laid-back croon listeners have to come to expect from A&A.
The other major influence is that the guitars, with the exception of a few songs, are much less harsh than in previous efforts. In some songs, the impact is so noticeable that it dominates the song. If it wasn’t for the hard rock intro in the album’s lead single, “Up All Night,” it would sound like it could have come off A&A’s latest record.
Fortunately for fans of Blink-182 that weren’t huge supporters of A&A, the similarities end there. Barker’s drumming is just as amazing as it has always been and never lets up. Whether it’s the near-tribal beat that leads into “Snake Charmer,” or the frenetic drumming that drives the fast-paced lament of love lost in “Heart’s All Gone,” Barker is still at the top of his game.
Hoppus is all there, too. He lays down catchy bass lines throughout the whole album and his back-up vocals don’t disappoint.
Neighborhoods is a dark, serious affair that sees Blink-182 beginning to expand their sound. Whether it’s the calm two minute interlude that breaks up the album and gives “Heart’s All Gone,” the ability to surprise the listener with its driving guitar and drums, or the winding guitar line in “Natives,” or the slight distortion that adds to the brooding atmosphere that is in “Fighting the Gravity,” Blink-182 is bringing it all here.
Many people were concerned that Blink-182 was going to phone in this album. This is most definitely not the case. Not everyone will be happy with this moodier, more depressing outing, but no one can say that they didn’t put all their heart into the making of this album.
Heart’s All Gone
Fighting the Gravity
Final Rating: 3.8/5