The good, the bad and the ugly
SKIPPING between radio stations can provide horrible and wonderful surprises – and this album is similar.
The wildly varied influences that inform Neighborhoods push and pull at one another, resulting in a split personality. It works for and against them.
With eight years between albums, it is natural for the band to have grown up, matured even. But the trio’s musical tastes run in opposite directions: Tom DeLonge’s love of stadium rock grandeur; Mark Hoppus’s indie punk bent; and Travis Braker’s penchant for metal, hip-hop and electronica.
It’s amazing they managed to put out a sixth album at all.
Let’s be blunt, Blink 182 in 2011 is not Blink 182 the way we remember them ( high-energy pop-punk with goofy, snotty, silly toilet humour).
However, Ghosts on the Dance Floor is an undeniably great song and the best combination of the trio’s many influences. With a deft touch, they blend rapid-fire drums, ’ 80s pop keyboard melodies, buzzing guitars and warm, round bass. This up-tempo rocker is a new Blink 182 that doesn’t ignore the old.
Highlights such as Natives or Heart’s All Gone hark back to the band’s early days, with some fast-paced, detailed, infectious, angst-ridden punk rock.
The DeLonge-fronted Wishing Well sounds like a potential hit single, employing some instantly familiar ‘‘ na-na-nas’’ in a memorable chorus.
But then there is Up All Night, the song that sounds the most like DeLonge’s other band, epic rockers Angels and Airwaves. That’s not a compliment. His desire to write ‘‘ important’’ music that can be sung from mountaintops isn’t always backed up by his abilities.
Some of his lyrics are bad, really bad. He aims for universal, spiritual enlightenment but ends up with cringe-worthy platitudes.
On Snake Charmer and MH4.18.2011, bad vocals ruin potentially good songs.
It’s never been a secret that Hoppus was the better, less nasal, singer.
But when they both sing on the same song, it is a highlight more often than not.
Breaking their own mould on the album’s deluxe edition is Fighting the Gravity, which must be considered the weirdest Blink song ever. It’s got industrial rhythms, cut-up vocals, thin guitars – you could say they’ve gone a little Radiohead here.
It’s a shock, but an enjoyable one.