Blink-182 - Blink-182
Record Label: Geffen
Release Date: November 18, 2003
It's drawing to a close. Where to begin with this turbulent year? The one thing that usually comes to mind is the loss of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Some people may think of the inaguration of our first African-american president, Barack Obama. While these events, and more, are present in our thoughts, there is one event that many people, including me, will not forget.
Blink-182 was back.
After their 2005 world tour commenced, it was announced that the band was on an "indefinite hiatus". While we were unclear of what this meant, the band's members went on to pursue other musical interests. Tom Delonge went on to form the arena-ready sounding band Angels and Airwaves, while Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker formed the electro-pop punk band +44. Angels and Airwaves went on to release We Don't Need To Whisper in 2006, and I-Empire in 2007, while +44 released When Your Heart Stops Beating in 2006. Although both band's albums did fairly well in their own rights, it was clear that they would not match up to the popularity of their previous outfit.
On September 19, 2008, Travis Barker's jet crashed after takeoff in South Carolina. Of the six people aboard the plane that night, only two survived: Barker, and Adam Goldstein (DJ AM). While he survived the crash, Barker received second to third degree burns on over 1/3 of his body. With his injuries known to the world, it seemed unclear if we would see him behind a kit again.
Cut to the 51st annual Grammy awards. Weeks prior it was made known that the three-members of Blink-182 would be on stage for the first time since December 2004. Before they presented the award, they made one thing clear to the audience, and the world. "Were back." While the crowd of musicians and critics gave a light clap to the trio, thousands of angry, love-sick kids did the only thing they could: rejoice.
I'm here to review the last album Blink-182 put out before the hiatus. The self'-titled, untitled, or whatever album that was released in 2003 is considered by many a critical success. I happen to think it's the band's finest work to date. Written and recorded after all three members became fathers, this album lacks the juvenile and crude content of their earlier work. What we are left with is a pop punk opus of rage, confusion, and love. It's a beautiful thing, really.
Starting the record off with the album's first single, "Feeling This" is Blink at their finest. This song is loud in it's sound, and lyrical content, dealing with the lust and romantics of sex. A sharp, sugary dose of punk that kicks off with Barker's fantastic drumming skills, it showcases all that is wonderful about this band. The hook is undeniable, and often has me hitting the repeat button, just so I can flail my arms to air guitar again. While this song is light in it's mood, it segues into one of the darkest songs Blink has ever made. "Obvious" is full blown rock, with it's detuned riff that forces itself into your cerebrum. Dealing with the topic of infidelity, this song aims to take no prisoners. This isn't, "I'm kinda ticked you cheated on me", as we saw in their song "Online Songs". This is more, "You make me want to hurt myself, you, and everything". It's dark, but the truth can be dark sometimes.
After two solid pieces of punk, we are lead into the moody, somber, acoustic ballad "I Miss You". Shying away from other love song cliches, Blink drops lines about, "webs from all the spiders, catching things and eating their insides", and comparing it to the lust of wanting to call a forbidden love. Another fine piece is the intense "Stockholm Syndrome", that is preceded by a woman's dialogue. Completely setting the mood, her voice captures the essence of yearning, and wanting of love. Her speech is followed by static, until the barrage of sound hits you and jolts your senses. The vocal dualism by Delonge and Hoppus is best presented in this piece. With Hoppus taking the lead for this track, the chorus is a back and forth motion between Mark's smooth and melodic voice, and Tom's high-pitched wails. While both these men are not the best singers in the world, it is apparent that no one else can sing this songs with as much passion, and pain, as they do.
"Down" is a fine example of minimalism in punk. With the repeated octave riff from Tom, he lays out the basis of the song, while it allows Mark and Travis to shine on their own. Containing quite possibly the catchiest chorus we have heard from the boys in their career, it's a tale of doubt in one's self, and their ability to keep the one's they love around. This leads us to the only major blunder I felt this album contained. While some feel the "The Fallen Interlude" was a good transition between songs, I felt that it wasn't needed. It seemed forced, and very "un-Blink" to me. This is the only track that I feel the need to skip.
"Always" is another fine example showing that Blink-182 can write an amazing pop song. With background keyboards in the outro, the vibe becomes completely 80's, which fits the song finer than you would expect. Another great love song, it speaks of the passions of a relationship, and how amazing they are. My personal favorite on the album is "All of This", with Robert Smith of The Cure taking on lead vocals. The brilliant chord progressions matching with the heavy percussion makes this an unlikely soft song. The singer is yearning to be used, and it seems unclear if this pains him or not. A beautiful musical piece, it is nothing short of inspirational.
The album ends with another statement of love, but the sound and words make it seem like the idea is fresh. "I'm Lost Without You" is a six minute love letter with distant piano keys, and haunting vocals. Pleading with every fiber of his being, Tom asks, "Are you afraid of being alone? 'Cause I am, I'm lost without you". With the intensity and passion in his voice, you can't help but believe him. The album then proceeds to finish where it started, with Barker punishing the drums once more.
After listening to this album, it feels I've lived a thousand lives or more. It is simple an experience to really indulge yourself into this wonderful album. This is a simple matter of opinion, of course. While many may claim that Green Day's "American Idiot" is the punk rock story of our time, I will still hold this album close to me wherever I go. Because no other music has spoken to me in this way...
I think the Fallen Interlude is great, but an opinion is an opinion. Definitely have to agree that All of This is the best track, either that or Down. And sorry American Idiot, I consider this the best album of all time.