Without a doubt, a huge part of Blink-182‘s enduring popularity is (or was) the certain juvenile charm that seemed inherit in all that they did. They never took themselves too seriously, and that sense of fun was undoubtedly infectious. Yet, to expected this immaturity to continue throughout their career would be slightly wishful thinking, and it was inevitable that the band would begin to veer towards more introspective and sedate subject matter (songs such as ‘Stay Together For The Kids’ signalled this shift). And so, ‘Neighborhoods’ see’s Blink return all the more grown up and all the more ambitious for it.
Now, it’s certainly fair to say that there is occasionally something missing in ‘Neighborhoods’. A lack of energy and enthusiasm seems to diminish some of the tracks, such as the plodding ‘After Midnight’, and there are brief glimpses of the band delving a little too far into the reverb soaked leanings of Tom DeLonge‘s other project Angels And Airwaves, something which may not bode well for the reception of the album by long time Blink fans. Yet, for any of its faults, there is no denying that there is some fantastically strong songwriting here.
Opener ‘Ghost On The Dancefloor’, with its chiming guitars and grand, synth led scope does well to set the scene for the rest of the album. Big riffs (check out the almost metal flavour of ‘Snake Charmer’ and the mammoth grooves in lead single ‘Up All Night’) sit alongside sedate and simmering verses and huge hooks, such as the ultra catchy chorus of ‘Kaleidoscope’, as Blink really put the loud/quiet dynamic through its paces. Indeed, this is one thing that really proves to set ‘Neighborhoods’ apart in the band’s canon; dynamics. Although some may cry foul at the inclusion of some electronic florishes or recoil at any similarities to certain members’ side-projects, it is this ambitious nature, these new textures and this new depth, which see the album elevate itself to a level of originality that most would think nigh on impossible of the band.
Yet, welcome shades of the old Blink still remain, namely in the presence of two full throttle punk numbers ‘Natives’ and ‘Hearts All Gone’, the former of which featuring some absoultely astounding drum work from Travis Barker, whose performance album wide is nothing but impressive as he provides a glut of powerful and innovative fills and beat, only enchancing his position as one of the world’s premier sticksmen.
And so, what we are left with for the most part is an interesting and solid album. Looking past the Blink-182 of old, ‘Neighborhoods’ succeeds. Sure, it’s downbeat and melancholy, an outpouring of depression and distress built up over the last seven years of hiatus, yet still it proves as engaging as the famous, three chord bursts that are known as the band’s bread and butter. The melodies and hooks remain, but Blink are now giving us so much more, and it’s a shame that many will dismiss this album offhand, as whilst not in anyway perfect, given a fair shot, it’s an enjoyable and intriguing release.
Written by Tony Bliss
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.