Album Review
+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating Album Cover

+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating

Reviewed by
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
It’s inevitable, +44 and Angels & Airwaves will be (unfairly) compared. Yes, both bands feature members from one of the most influential pop-punk bands ever, blink-182. And yes, both bands released their hotly anticipated albums this year. But, this is where all the comparisons end. While AVA’s album was trying to be the next U2, Mark Hoppus wrote more about the end of blink and how horrible his past year had been. While +44 isn’t completely different than from the sound blink-182 captured on their last release, it would be an injustice to the band to categorize their debut album, When Your Heart Stops Beating, as “blink-182 with synths.” It’s much more than that on this thirteen track journey. Produced by Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker, with some help from executive producer Jerry Finn features a nice balance of upbeat pop-punk tunes, arena-sized rockers, and somber tracks.

As most of you know, +44 was originally going to be an electronic-based project featuring Barker on drums and Hoppus and Carol Heller (Get The Girl) alternating on vocals. Eventually, Heller wanted to leave to start a family, and +44 added guitarists Shane Gallagher (The Nervous Return) and Craig Fairbaugh (Mercy Killers) to bring more of a “punk” vibe. That vibe is very prevalent in the album opener “Lycanthrope,” a track that drives and features the overall lyrical theme from Hoppus in the very first line: “I wake up at the end of a long, dark, lonely year/it’s bringing out the worst in me.” What you’ll notice throughout the album is Hoppus’ honest and, at times, very bleak lyrics, which are one of the major strengths of the album, as I feel Hoppus has never wrote anything better. This is not a happy-go-lucky album.

“Baby, Come On” follows with a gentle riff which blasts into a huge chorus, which is the song’s strength. The title track, which is also the first single, is full of snotty verses and a hyperactive chorus, and Barker shines on the kit. “Little Death” is the first slow track on the album and happens to be one of my favorites on the album. It begins with a slow drum beat and Hoppus sings in a rather low, somber tone. The chorus is very powerful, as each instrument crashes and Hoppus’ voice crescendos and really takes charge of the entire thing. “155” is really heavy on the synth and incorporates some handclaps, which is always a nice touch. The track brings back the high energy after the slower “Little Death.”

“Lillian” is another moody song, featuring acoustic guitars mixed in with some programmed drums; it’s a ballad about how ugly and selfish people can be. “Cliff Diving” is very reminiscent of blink-182 and is a rare happy song on the album. This song leads into the very relaxing and very electronic interlude, which gives a nice break in the album. “Weatherman” features haunting keyboards, menacing guitars, and Hoppus’ most depressing lyrics (Just let me slip away/I’m barely holding on.”), making this the darkest track on the entire album. “No, It Isn’t” follows, which was the demo that was infamously (and coincidentally) leaked on Tom Delonge’s birthday. Since then, the song was given a fuller sound with thicker guitars and drums, making it my favorite song on the album. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the lyrical content is about the breakup of blink-182, with lines like “Please understand/this isn’t just goodbye/this is I can’t stand you,” and “Curse my enemies forever/let’s slit our wrists/and burn down something beautiful.” The strongest and most honest song Hoppus has ever wrote, it is the high point of the album. “Make You Smile” is what +44 were going to initially sound like, featuring the back and forth vocals between Hoppus and Heller, it is a beautiful, stripped down song that switches up the moods of the album. The album ends with the big-sounding and anthemic “Chapter XIII.” It’s loud and heavy, leaving a very strong lasting impression on the listener and closes When Your Heart Stops Beating on a very high note.

When Your Heart Stops Beating fuses many different song structures and temperaments into a very diverse and potent debut album. Mark Hoppus is at his absolute best, while Barker is up to his usual drumming standards. Gallagher and Fairbaugh are also impressive with their fine guitar work throughout. What makes +44 really successful is that they are not hiding or trying to sugarcoat the past; making it one of the most honest records you’ll hear in 2006. This is a definite must-buy on November 14th for any fans of blink-182 or electronic-based power rock. +44 isn’t trying to be the “biggest rock band in 20 years,” or trying to change the world. Rather, When Your Heart Stops Beating is a soul-baring album just trying to release its demons and look positively into the futures. Don’t miss out on this.

Additional InformationTracklisting:
1. Lycanthrope
2. Baby, Come On
3. When Your Heart Stops Beating
4. Little Death
5. 155
6. Lillian
7. Cliff Diving
8. Interlude
9. Weatherman
10. No, It Isn’t
11. Make You Smile
12. Chapter XIII
Produced by: Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker
Executive Producer: Jerry Finn

+44 are:
Mark Hoppus – vocals/bass
Travis Barker – drums
Shane Gallagher – guitar
Craig Fairbaugh – guitar

Release Date: November 14, 2006
Record Label: Interscope
Official Website; Official Myspace
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 124
12:52 AM on 11/14/06
Typical College Drunk
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really well written dude... all substance no fluff like i see in lotsa reviews...
12:55 AM on 11/14/06
yaaaankee! swap
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polock's Avatar
this looks interesting
01:01 AM on 11/14/06
Scott Weber
Live Like a Legend
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Scott Weber's Avatar
I really loved this album for about 3 days and then I got the feeling that I never wanted to listen to it again, which really makes me sad. It has absolutely no lasting value for me.
01:15 AM on 11/14/06
Registered User
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forwardprogress's Avatar
I really loved this album for about 3 days and then I got the feeling that I never wanted to listen to it again, which really makes me sad. It has absolutely no lasting value for me.

I can't help but get the EXACT same feeling. I've tried to listen to it again in the last few days and I just can't... and that's VERY depressing.
01:26 AM on 11/14/06
Johnny Clutch
Team Bernard
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Johnny Clutch's Avatar
Great review

When I first heard this album, I really wasn't a huge fan, but listenign to it again a few times has caused me to fall in love with it. I just feel like this is a great album, even though at times it can be somewhat generic. The last 3 tracks are what really make it though.
02:41 AM on 11/14/06
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Plodbax's Avatar
Its good but you really are left wanting more from it. it just could have had more depth to it i think. but still a great album
02:53 AM on 11/14/06
quincentuple your money
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TurnOnTheLight's Avatar
good review. and awesome album.
08:18 AM on 11/14/06
Chemical Love
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Chemical Love's Avatar
Love the CD.
08:19 AM on 11/14/06
iGnoble Apathian
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gladnads's Avatar
I only enjoyed a couple of songs, and don't see it growing on me.
08:25 AM on 11/14/06
they knew exactly what happened.
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notoaststereo's Avatar
amazing album... far surpassed my expectations
08:27 AM on 11/14/06
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briXinRhands's Avatar
yeah this gets real old real fast
08:27 AM on 11/14/06
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matt_rawlings's Avatar
I love it, it as absolute grower, which is what any good album should be.

The only weakness for me is that sometimes the lyrics are downright shite, but I still think its on the whole a great cd.

Cheers to Mark Hoppus, the reason why I play music
08:31 AM on 11/14/06
Feed me!
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Punkrocker92's Avatar
Damn that comes out today! I can't wait.
08:42 AM on 11/14/06
Joe DeAndrea
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Joe DeAndrea's Avatar
Good review. I love this album.

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