Review Summary: plus44+Angels & Airwaves+Boxcar Racer= Neighborhoods
"To me it sounds like a combination of all our records, there are songs that could have been on Dude Ranch, there are songs that could have on our last record. Overall, it combines everything we've done before and takes a step forward after that." –Mark Hoppus
This quote is close to correct; the album is closer described as a combination of the groups past side projects. Tom Delonge’s Angels and Airwaves are prominent, as well as a lot of Mark Hoppus’s and Travis Barker’s +44—even some Boxcar Racer—but very little Blink is actually shown. “Neighborhoods,” the pop-punk trio’s first release in close to a decade as Blink-182, is not a train wreck like many believed it would be: it actually brings out the best in the band; Tom’s vocals have vastly improved since the last Angels and Airwaves album, sounding again like the young Tom with the high pitched voice; Travis practically goes into a solo-mode for half of the 50 minute album, continuing to provide excellent beats and drum fills; Mark’s bass is heard louder and more often than in past Blink albums, and although his vocals seem to be lacking some oomph, his deep-singing voice gives the perfect counter part for Toms.
“Ghost on the Dance Floor’s” beginning requires more of an introduction, starting a bit too suddenly and not fitting as a proper song opener. It sounds like a song straight out of an Angels and Airwaves album; in fact, it sounds very close to Epic Holiday, off of the bands last album “LOVE.” It’s all Tom doing vocals and as a whole, pretty forgettable—not a bad track, but too much of a filler. Natives starts powerfully, with a fast guitar riff and mid tempo drum beat, flowing nicely into Tom’s whiny vocals and Mark’s haunting chorus. After this, the album slows down a bit, starting up with the two singles, Up All Night and After Midnight, which, in their own right, are decent tracks, but are not single worthy; the song the band should have chosen for their first single, Snake Charmer begins next, with clever verses and good lyric content (with lines lyrics referring to Adam and Eve). Transitioning into Hearts All Gone (none ‘mixed’ version leaked pre-album) and its interlude play well together; the interlude on this album is less experimental than the one on the s/t, but works better and fits more comfortably on this album. Wishing Well and Kaleidoscope are songs the band should have also considered as singles: they’re standouts not only on the album, but in all of Blinks discography—Tom proves with these songs how much his voice has improved and what a fitting contrast Mark’s make. This Is Home and MH 4.18.11, minus the keyboards, sound like they could be tracks off of the bands 2001 release, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, with MH 4.18.11 providing the best lyric on the album “stop living in the shadow of a helicopter.” The ending of the album becomes slower and more heartfelt, less like the old Blink and more like old, balding blink. Even though these songs are not bad, they almost feel like a bit of a disappointment from the middle of the album.
With the breakup of Blink back in 2005, and how long it has taken this album to be released, along with the first two singles being somewhat of a letdown, it is amazing this album was not a total train wreck. Toms vocals are solid, and most of the time he stays away from his Angels & Airwaves delivery; Mark, who’s vocals were a let down on some songs, still provides some good moments, but he defers most of the singing to Tom, even when Mark’s vocals are the preferred ones to me. It’s all able work because Tom’s voice fits The Blink music style more. At the end of it all, this is a solid release, and hopefully not the last from a band that has touched the hearts of many angst ridden angry youths.