There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to grow up. At one point, we must all put aside the ways and mannerisms of a child, and become an adult. Growing up isn’t easy though. The early years of one’s life produce some of the best and most cherished memories. It’s no small surprise, then, that children never seem to want to grow up. The concept of Never Never Land, a place where one can go and live as a child forever, appeals to each and every one of us. But in real life, there is no Never Never Land; no place where we can live out our days forever young. To make up for this, humankind, in a way, has resorted to staying young through media. The aforementioned Never Never Land, an essential part of the Peter Pan mythos, along with many other references and allusions in media, has cemented the appeal of youth in our minds. But every now and then one of our media icons of youth, a pinnacle of childlikeness, a symbol of all that is immature...grows up. What are we to do then? Do we mourn the loss of the childlike and protest the mature, or do we realize that even though youth is beautiful, there is still much beauty to be found in growing up as well?
The icons I am speaking of are Blink-182, a pop-punk trio from California. Despite their mildly humble beginnings, they soon formed a reputation as one of the most popular pop-punk bands ever. Their music was fueled by immaturity, catchiness, and youthful exuberance. After six full length albums and one live album, the majority of which were very well received, the band realized that it was time for a change. The formula that had worked so well for them for years just wouldn’t cut it anymore. In 2003, Blink-182 went into the studio to record their new album, intent on doing something new and crafting a new sound. Although it would alienate some fans, most realized that the change was a good thing. The result of the change was Blink-182
, the band’s best album and one of the most solidly brilliant pop-punk albums ever.
One thing that is noticed right off the bat is that this album is unlike anything the band has ever done before. It’s darker and mildly experimental, at least by pop-punk’s standards. Blink-182 decided to try some new things on this album, including the use of other instruments, like pianos and six string basses. This was the record where the band decided to let their influences shine through, something that they failed to do with previous albums. Tom Delonge hasn’t been secretive about the fact that Fugazi is one of his favorite bands, and in some tracks, most notably Stockholm Syndrome
and Easy Target
, you can definitely recognize a post-hardcore influence. Mark, Tom, and Travis also cited bands like The Police and Pink Floyd as an influence for this record, which is certainly apparent in songs like Asthenia
, All of This
, and Always
Although the band definitely moved in a new direction, they certainly didn’t completely abandon their old sound. Most of the songs on here are very reminiscent of their previous material, yet with a prominent tinge of maturity. It’s interesting that for all the talk of maturity, the subject matter of this album rarely travels beyond love and relationships. On previous records, the band had been known to delve into such topics as suicide and parental hardships, yet on this album there is really only one song that crosses the definitive pop-punk borders into a quote-unquote grown-up subject. Even so, there is still an undeniably mature writing style present on every track, particularly with the use of metaphor and rhyme (or lack of, in some cases).
In addition to the improved lyrics, the songwriting is also excellent. For a band that previously wrote albums that consisted almost exclusively of fast pop-punk songs, it’s really quite the accomplishment to write songs that concentrate on the slower, more melodic side of the music. The band technically still follows the standard verse-chorus-bridge formula, but they focus more on buildups and climaxes; elements that were rarely, if ever, explored in previous albums. My one complaint about this whole album is that the spotlight is on Tom for most of the album. There is only one song where Mark does all the lead singing, which is Here’s Your Letter
, one of the best songs on the album. I would complain more if Tom didn’t do such a great job with the vocals. His voice is more impassioned than ever, exemplified best in what is quite possibly Blink-182’s best song ever, Asthenia
Catchiness has always been a staple of Blink-182’s music, and that doesn’t change on this album. Basically, this record take everything that made Blink-182 so great in the first place, and meshes it with something new and invigorating, resulting in quite a refreshing sound. It’s apparent that the same old formula that they had used for previous albums just wouldn’t fit with what was happening in the band member’s lives. With each member over thirty and married, I’m sure that fart jokes didn’t appeal to the band that much anymore. One great thing about this album is that all the songs are different from their other material, yet just as catchy. From the light hearted Feeling This
to the dark Easy Target
, Blink-182 shows a phenomenal ability to be catchy yet mature.
With all this talk of maturity, it is somewhat ironic that the band decided to open up this album with Feeling This
. The subject of the song is sex, which is nothing we haven’t heard from the band before. More than anything, the song serves as a goodbye to Blink-182’s former sound; one last example of what they were leaving behind, and what lay ahead. The album really starts with Obvious
, which is one of the darkest, heaviest pop-punk songs I’ve ever heard. The experimental side of the band really starts to show here, as Tom recorded some of the vocals while standing 15 feet away from the microphone. And from there, the band takes us on a wild ride. Songs range from the acoustic I Miss You
to the mellow Down
to the experimental The Fallen Interlude
. This album really does have it all.
I suppose that my only justification for the classic rating is that I love every song on this record, and I believe that it is the pinnacle of not only Blink-182’s career, but the pop-punk genre as a whole. This album showed the most musical and lyrical growth that I have ever seen from a band. Everything that the band had done well in the past was matured, refined, improved upon, and put into this album. All of the previous albums had all been building up to this masterpiece. It took ten years for the band to mature and refine their sound, but it was certainly worth the wait. Personally, I don’t think that the band should reunite, as it would be nearly impossible to top what they have done with this self-titled record. Perhaps it was better for the band to go out on top, in a blaze of glory, than to follow up with sub par material. So here’s to you, Blink-182. It was certainly a wild and exciting ride. Thanks for growing up with us.
…I hope I won’t forget you…