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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blink-182: Neighborhoods (Release Date: 9-27-2011)

        Oh, how Blink-182 takes me back. As corny as it sounds on the surface, the band served an important role in the development of my musical fandom, and I certainly don't think I'm alone in that regard. Neither radio music (All the Small Things withstanding) nor family friendly, Blink's discs were often acquired out of the CD burners of whichever of your friends had the most lax parents, hidden safely from your own guardians thereafter. Sure, their juvenile curses seem harmless now, but there was a time, a youngish-teenage years time, when their relentlessly childish world view really hit a nerve, and when seeking out their music was a rebellious and (vaguely) individualistic act. Yes, that's a lot of importance to place on a band that will undoubtedly be stuck in high-school-mode from here unto infinity, but the point is that, no matter how silly their music has always been, Blink-182 seems to strike a gigglingly nostalgic chord for myself and many of my peers.

        The band's last album, a 2003 Self-Titled effort, was a surprisingly mature and varied effort, but even then, there was a sense that Mark, Tom and Travis were getting a bit old to be crafting this kind of music. The Three have been bouncing around various similar-sounding projects ever since, so it makes sense that they might as well just come back home, but at ages ranging from 35-39, their angst-ier days are a bit behind them. Lead single Up All Night can't help but point this out, compensating for youthful mania with walls of power chords. Tom DeLonge, certainly the more iconic of the band's Two vocalists but never my favorite, is the worse for ware, even if his voice sounds mostly the same. Something about hearing a 35-year-old sing in his particular pitch is a bit off-putting. And yet, after all of that, the song still manages to be something of an earworm. Welcome to Neighborhoods.

        Neighborhoods is 14 tracks long, clocking in at just under 50 minutes, and not a single sound on the disc is unfamiliar to the band's catalogue. As a matter of fact, most of the songs just blur together anyways, a mega-sugary pop/punk mixture with occasional highlights popping up in the form of After Midnight's chorus, This is Home's obvious Cure vibes, and thoughts of that girl you had a crush on in 8th grade. It's all listenable, and plenty of it is unnervingly catchy. To say that the new Blink-182 LP is a retread would be a lie: The album is a carbon-copy, perfectly designed to slot into the rest of their discography and play anonymously on shuffle. Do I enjoy listening to Neighborhoods? Yeah, I think so, in an ironic, blast-from-the-past kind of way. Is it a good album? Oh, god, no. It's dumb fun; Let's just leave it at that.

Grade: C

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