The good, the bad and the ugly

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

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.

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