As we all probably know, Box Car Racer is, or was, the side project of Blink 182 members Tom Delonge and Travis Barker. Most of Box Car Racer’s songs have a somewhat darker lyrical content as opposed to the poppy, occasionally immature lyrics often seen in many of Blink’s songs.
Box Car Racer is:
Tom Delonge – Guitar, Vocals
Travis Barker – Drums
David Kennedy – Guitar
Anthony Celestino – Bass
The album opens with I Feel So, which is the first single off the album. It starts off with a slow, peaceful piano melody, then goes into a little acoustic guitar riff. Then the feedback and the drums come in. Throughout the song, the guitars are distorted and moderately fast. The acoustic riff comes in again for the first part of the verse, followed by a palm muted riff. For the most part, the song has a somewhat darker overall tone, a prime example of which is in the chorus: “Cause I feel so mad/I feel so angry/Feel so callused/So lost, confused again/I feel so cheap/So used, unfaithful/Let’s start over/Let’s over.”
Next up is All Systems Go. A single, quiet, distorted guitar opens the song, and everybody else jumps in soon afterward. The verses are slower paced, with a faster and more upbeat chorus than the previous track.
The third track is Watch the World, which seems to be talking about a great natural disaster, or maybe the end of the world, and the rebuilding of everything afterwards. It’s definitely not one of the darker songs of the album though. This song follows the formula that, as will soon become apparent, many of the songs on the album follow: Softer pieces, with heavier choruses or interludes thrown in. This song has one of the first examples of some incredible drumming by Travis. Even though Travis’s drumming is always really good, the drumming in the verse of this song is pretty sweet.
The next song is Tiny Voices. This song is probably one of my least favorites on the album, although not the worst song, and not a bad song either, I just don’t like it as much as some of the others. Tom’s voice struck me as slightly too whiny in this song, especially in the interlude: “Everybody will be let down/Everybody will be let down.”
Cat Like Thief starts off with some more excellent drumming, as always, from Travis. Then the guitar comes in, with a riff played at a pace very similar to the verse in Blink’s Stay Together for the Kids. Next, the singing starts, with Tim Armstrong from Rancid singing. Incidentally, Tim also sings for The Transplants, Travis’s other side band. Then, Tom starts singing after a few lines from Tim. Throughout the song, Tom and Tim, each taking a few lines at a time. This song doesn’t follow the formula I mentioned earlier, since this whole song progresses at a slow pace, with no distortion on the guitars whatsoever.
And I is one of the first songs on this album that really jumped out at me and caught my attention within the first few seconds. Yet again, some truly great drumming from Travis. When I first got this CD, I probably listened to the first 8 seconds of this song twenty times over. Then, a distorted, slightly high-pitched guitar comes in. Soon after, everyone else comes in. Again, slightly slower paced verses, with a heavier chorus.
Then, giving the listener a break from the slightly heavier songs is Letters To God, a predominantly acoustic song, with all the other instruments only coming in for a little while at the end. This is another of the darker songs on the album, not as much in tone, but in lyrical content. It’s mostly about not wanting to die, not being ready for it, and having regrets about what one did during their life. The chorus expresses it best: “I won’t lie/I won’t sin/Maybe I don’t wanna go/Can’t you wait/Maybe I don’t wanna go.”
Track 8 is My First Punk Song, also the worst song on the entire CD, and on with an incredibly high Skip Factor.* This song pretty much the only reason that I didn’t give this album a 5/5. One of the lines is “Yeah I said I F***ed your brother!” Then, the chorus says “There’s one problem/I got brownies/From your mother/It gave me syphilis…I got no dick!” The only good thing about this song is, of course, Travis’s drumming.
Next up is Sorrow. This song isn’t dark so much as it is mournful. “I’m sorry/Please forgive me/Believe me if you could.” This song also follows the formula of slower verses with a heavier chorus. Still a really good song though, with a great drum solo at the end.
There Is, which is another acoustic song, is definitely one of the high points of the album. This was one of the first songs I heard off this CD, and one of my favorites. After 18 seconds of Travis playing a cool pattern on the snare, the acoustic guitar comes in. Travis’s drumming continues exactly the same through the whole song, providing a backing for what is primarily a guitar-and-vocal driven song, as opposed to a drum-driven song, which is what a lot of Box Car Racer’s songs are. At the risk of sounding sappy, I’m going to say that this is also an excellent love song. You should definitely check this one out.
There Is is followed by The End With You, a heavier song, which is, in my opinion, the darkest song on the album, not only in how it sounds, but in its lyrical content as well. “The letters keep coming by/To let us know when time will die/Please God, will you forgive us/And give us one more try” is just one example of the darker lyrical tone of The End With You. This song is pretty much like the rest as far as musical content, nothing really new here, except the darker tone. The palm muted riff during the verse is pretty cool as well.
The next track, Elevator, starts out with what I would describe as one of the best intros on the entire album. It opens with an awesome drumbeat, then, a few seconds later, the guitar comes in, then the vocals: “The building turned its back, ignored my call/The concrete looks too thin to break my fall.” As becomes apparent after maybe a minute of listening is that this song is another one about death, suicide, to be exact. The tone of this song is one that’s definitely more upbeat, just with slightly darker subject matter. Elevator is also the second track with a guest vocalist, Mark Hoppus of Blink 182, who sings in the second verse; which makes it sound a lot like a Blink song. One of the only cons about this song is that the lines “Let’s forget this all/Move on” become a little too repetitive towards the end of the song.
The closing track, 13, is titled Instrumental, and, as the title implies, it’s an instrumental. Overall, a slower paced song, with a xylophone and an instrument that I believe is Indian thrown into the mix. Although a slow song, for the most part, there are a couple heavy interludes stuck in as well.
Overall, this is a great CD, one that I would definitely recommend to Blink fans, and even those who dislike Blink because of their occasionally immaturity.
*Skip Factor: The likelihood that you’ll press the skip button when you get to this particular track.
Watch The World
Letters To God
The End With You
-Travis’s drumming is, as always, superb.
-Great vocals from Tom
-Guest appearance from Mark Hoppus
-Two great acoustic songs, Letters to God and There Is.
-After a while, the album does get to feeling slightly repetitive at times.
-My First Punk Song doesn’t fit at all with the more serious tone of the album.
-Guest vocals from Tim Armstrong are kind of annoying.