Review Summary: Although Neighborhoods does not quite live up to its predecessor lyrically or emotionally, it still features plenty of very good songs, and shows that Blink-182 can still make a solid album after 20 years.
In February 2009, after a 4-year hiatus that was considered at the start to be “indefinite”, California pop-punk trio Blink-182 reunited and began working on a new album. On September 27th, the band’s album, Neighborhoods, which they spent over two years recording, was released. With Neighborhoods, Blink-182 proved that they are still relevant and still creating a catchy, but mature version of the pop-punk sound that they helped innovate.
Neighborhoods could be seen as a continuation of the band’s sound that they began developing with their 2003 self-titled album. After playing catchy pop-punk for a decade, the band started to experiment with a darker, more mature sound on their self-titled effort. This sound has been taken even further on Neighborhoods. Older Blink-182 fans looking for fun, immature songs such as their old hits “All the Small Things” or “What’s My Age Again” won’t find them here. Instead, they will find a collection of dark songs reflecting on themes such as death and grieving. The album still features plenty of catchy hooks; songs like “After Midnight” and “Heart’s All Gone” feature choruses as strong as those of their old hits, only with far more mature lyrics.
Musically, Neighborhoods features less of a traditional pop-punk sound than previous releases. The guitar work has become more complex, and many songs feature synthesizers. Hints of the band’s side projects, including Angels & Airwaves, can be heard on songs such as opening track “Ghost on the Dancefloor”, which is slower than most Blink-182 songs, and features some elements of ambient and electronic music.
While Neighborhoods does a surprisingly good job at living up to the hype of a comeback album, it fails to emotionally resonate quite as well as the band’s self-titled album, which did a fantastic job of telling stories and painting pictures in the mind of the listener. The lyrics on Neighborhoods are far more vague, which works well on some songs (“Natives”, “After Midnight”) and struggles to resonate on others (“Up All Night”).
Neighborhoods comes in both a standard edition and a deluxe edition. The standard is only 10 songs, while the deluxe is 14. Two of the bonus songs on the deluxe edition (“Snake Charmer”, “Fighting the Gravity”) are very experimental-sounding, and are the weakest tracks on the album. It is interesting to hear a variety of different songs from a band such as Blink-182, so the deluxe edition is probably the best choice for fans, but those who choose the standard edition won’t miss out on much.
Blink-182 fans will be divided by Neighborhoods. Those who were turned off by the band’s experimenting on their previous album will not find much here to enjoy, beyond a few catchy choruses. Fans of the band’s self-titled effort will almost certainly enjoy this release, because it continues with a dark, mature, exploration of different musical genres and lyrical themes. Although Neighborhoods does not quite live up to its predecessor lyrically or emotionally, it still features plenty of very good songs, and shows that Blink-182 can still make a solid album, and are still developing musically after 20 years.
-Overall rating: 4/5
“Ghost on the Dancefloor”