It’s been a long time coming, but after eight troubled years away from the music scene, the boys of Blink-182 are–quite literally–back in town with their new album, “Neighborhoods.” Perhaps it’s true what they say, that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I’ve personally always loved Blink-182. I think I speak for my generation when I say that–like them or not–Blink served as the soundtrack for much of our middle- and high-school lives. Listening to their old songs may bring back great memories, but you can put away those CDs you burned because Blink-182 is back with a vengeance, and fans of any age won’t be disappointed.
Their latest release marks a significant departure from the adolescent angst and deeply meaningless sentiment that saturated Blink’s previous albums. In “Neighborhoods,” Blink-182 waxes lyrical about the transience of life and the intricacies of human nature, proving that they haven’t just grown older but also wiser. Their sound has also matured, with elements of the band’s respective side-projects–Angels and Airwaves, Box Car Racer and +44–all apparent in their new melodies. Though Biblical and literary allusions may abound in the new album’s lyrics, they are all backed by that seamless melding of drum and guitar that only Blink can do so well.
The emotion and melodic depth is palpable from the opening track of “Neighborhoods,” “Ghost on the Dancefloor.” Though the song opens with a driving drum solo from Travis Barker reminiscent of the intro of the band’s former smash hit, “Feeling This,” the lyrics demonstrate that Blink is now all “grown up.”
In the opening verse, Blink frontman Tom Delonge sings, “It’s like the universe has left me/Without a place to go/Without a hint of light/To watch the movement glow/When our song is slowly starting/The memory felt so real/At first against my will/But God invented chills.”
Though the lyrics may be haunting, the song is as catchy as any track off of Blink-182’s self-titled album of eight years ago. It serves as an apt opening track for their comeback album as well as a chilling reminder of Barker’s brush with death in a 2008 plane crash.
The album maintains a similarly momentous tone throughout, but the tracks are anything but somber. In fact, “Neighborhoods” is a very fitting title for this release, as the 14 tracks draw on various genres of music and different areas of Blink’s own material for inspiration. “Natives,” which bassist Mark Hoppus has stated is his favorite track on the album, is a nod to the band’s former pop-punk glory, with an infectious drum-and-bass line and suitably dark lyrics. The album’s first single, “Up All Night,” on the other hand, boasts grandiose guitar chords in the style of Delonge’s band Angels and Airwaves. Later in the album, “Snake Charmer” showcases the band’s rock influences and sounds like it could have easily come off an album by The Cure. Finally, “Even if She Falls” brings the album to a beautiful close, flawlessly tying together Blink-182’s traditional sound (think “Always” with a mellower melody) with their newfound sophistication.
All in all, “Neighborhoods” is a true case of “once more, with feeling;” you’ll still be bobbing your head, tapping your toes and wreaking havoc on your air guitar to the beat of the new tracks, but this time, you may also find your heart melting, if only a little.