Blink-182 - Neighborhoods
Record Label: Interscope/Geffen Records
Release Date: September 27, 2011
It’s crazy; as long as I’ve been doing a website, blink-182 has been my favorite band, and now I’m reviewing their new album. It’s been six years since the band first took their hiatus, and two more since they put out a new full-length. So here we are, a new blink-182 album will be released on September 27th and I’m not sure if there’s ever been more hype for one of their albums. Don’t quote me on that, I wasn’t in the music scene back in the early-2000’s, so I could be wrong. I should say; for me, there has never been a more anticipated album.
Synth and the opening guitar riff to “Ghost on the Dance Floor” will invite you into the album, but only if you’re willing to open your mind to a /new/ blink-182. I guess I shouldn’t say new, it’s the same band, but they certainly naturally progressed. If what you’re expecting is silly, fast punk songs, don’t bother. “Hearts All Gone” and “Natives” may interest you, but there’s still progression. New Wave straight from the eighties certainly makes itself noticed on “Ghost on the Dance Floor,” and multiple other times throughout, but it’s so damn good. Fast drums, bass lines, and guitar-work all bring in “Natives” - the first throwback track on this album that Mark and Tom were referring to before the album’s release. While there are the throwback elements, there’s plenty of progression within the band’s lyrics and even better…instrumentals; everything sounds like a lot more thought was put into it, and less “Oh, we’re a punk band, so let’s just make songs as fast as we can.”
The two singles “After Midnight” and “Up All Night” close out the first little portion of this album, and solidify early-on that this is going to be a dark record. There’s very little things that I agree with MTV on, but when they said “Lyrically, Neighborhoods is the bleakest thing Blink have ever done, haunted by specters both real — depression, addiction, loss — and imagined” I almost wanted to hit myself, because I finally didn’t think “that’s the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever read” when I see something related to MTV. But aside from taking shots at MTV, blink-182 still has the kind of up-lifting sound every once in awhile. Tom’s voice is hard to make sound depressing when you give him even a mid-tempo song.
Back to the album, though, there are some pop-punk songs on this album. I’d say this album contains some of their most pop-punk songs since Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. But please, don’t think I’m talking about fast, upbeat pop-punk. Yes, it’s still fast enough to be pop-punk, but is much more mellow when compared to songs like “First Date,” “Roller Coaster,” etc. Think…sort of “Story of a Lonely Guy” kind of pop-pun, but still with a much darker atmosphere. The best examples of this are “Snake Charmer” and “Wishing Well,” I believe anyway. The guitar work for both songs reminisces the blink-182 that we all know, but those riffs have always been there. Of course, the lyrics are darker: “I felt a stutter and a waiver//cutting like a razor//like fire through the snow//then straight down to the bone” coming straight from the opening verse in “Snake Charmer,” but they’re accompanied with one of the catchiest choruses on the album. “Wishing Well” is sort-of a more classic pop-punk song, using one of the better riffs on the album and the hook will stick in your head for days upon days.
Songs like “Love Is Dangerous” and “This Is Home” both will make you feel like you’re listening to a more modern version of the Cure. Despite the constant repeats of “this makes no sense, this makes no sense” from Mark Hoppus in “Fighting the Gravity,” it all makes sense. But, not only does it make sense, these songs are so damn good. “Even If She Falls” is the final track on the deluxe edition album, and really sums up everything that blink-182 now is. It’s got instrumentals that make it sound like a nice, upbeat summer song, but it’s still got lyrics that are tinged with some empathy.
If there’s one thing to complain about with this album, then it’s the production. At some points you can almost tell that the band recorded this album in three different studios, and produced it the same. Travis’ drums sometimes overshadow Tom’s guitars, and vice versa. If you want some examples of this, I recommend you listen to “Heart’s All Gone” and “Kaleidoscope.” While both are still solid songs, it just makes you feel a bit cheated - especially when you compare the differences to their previous albums where they all got together to record.
So, while it’s not a flawless album, it certainly comes close at times. I don’t see why people are begging for another Enema of the State, it’s certainly a good album, but that’s unfair to beg for something that happened over a decade ago. I feel like Neighborhoods shows what blink-182 can really do as a band, as they experiment on this album as you’d expect, and even throw in some surprises. If you’re looking for classic blink-182, then there’s plenty of bands out there like All Time Low that rip-off their sound pretty noticeable. With that said, if you want to listen to a new pop-punk record from a band who really built the foundation for pop-punk that everyone expects today, then Neighborhoods is something you should look into. Gone are the fast, immature pop-punk songs of old, instead we’re given a more mature and mellow blink-182 that shadows pop-rock sometimes. But, anyone expecting them to go back to Enema of the State/Take Off Your Pants and Jacket are nothing short of silly.
I also have no idea how those ratings are going to make this rating turn out to be, but I'd give it a 90-94% if it was that easy.