Review Summary: Ever wondered where the newfound maturity on Blink 182's self titled album came from?
There‘s no denying Blink-182 are one of the most influential pop punk bands to emerge out of the 90’s. Whether you love them or hate them, they played an important role in influencing countless bands of the decade. Their sense of humor and the tag team vocals of Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus really made them stand out from the bunch. To this day bands of the genre continue to cite Blink-182 as an influence in their music. However, I’m afraid even some avid fans of the band have yet to hear Tom’s side project, Box Car Racer. Due to its signs of maturity, it’s sure to please fans of Blink-182s successful self titled effort.
Released in 2002, Box Car Racer’s self titled album was DeLonge’s attempt at creating a more rock oriented record. It still has pop punk influences, but it definitely has more of a hard rock edge to it. For the most part Tom’s voice sounds unchanged. The biggest difference in the music however as compared to his usual work is in the guitars. The first real standout ‘All Systems Go’ starts out with heavier guitars than expected, but the song’s also not afraid to show off DeLonge’s love for pop punk. It blends both genres rather nicely, as do many of the tracks. As expected, Travis Barker’s drumming is top notch and really adds character to some of the albums more experimental cuts. ‘My First Punk Song’ is one of the less serious songs that is highlighted by Barker’s rapid fire drums. Some may be turned off by the songs unusual vocals, but the guitars and drums are unusually heavy for the band.
Not all songs are upbeat though, as ‘Letters To God’ and ‘There Is’ prove to be touching emo-laced ballads. The lyrics are also darker and more true to life then a lot of Blink-182’s fun pop punk anthems which helps make them easier to relate to. ‘Letters to God’ is about exactly what the name suggestions. Tom reflects on thoughts of not being ready to leave this world, and asking God to give him another chance. It’s by no means religious, but a reflection of the darkness he feels through past regrets. These poignant lyrics are present throughout the album.
Caught off guard, all worked up, the air is as dark and cold as night. Let me know I’m not done, I swear I’ll take just one lifetime.
And I, I won’t lie, I won’t sin, maybe I don’t wanna go. Can’t you wait? Maybe I don’t wanna go.
Will this offer get me in, or does this prove that they gave more?
For those who have wondered where the sudden change in direction came from on Blink 182’s self titled album, look no further than Box Car Racer. Released only a year before their self titled album, the release really paved the way for the band's successful change in sound. If you don’t enjoy DeLonge’s other bands this album will do nothing to change your mind. For the rest of you, this was the beginning of Tom's maturity that really helped shape his material in Angels and Airwaves and Blink-182‘s last two albums. It’s just a shame this was the only release put out by the enjoyable and versatile side project.