About 8 years following the disappearance of Blink-182 from everyone’s radar, the band finally decided to reunite and work on a new album: that album was 2011’s Neighborhoods.
The reviews were mixed for this one so let’s see if that’s justified or if some critics just didn’t get it.
The album opens with “Ghost On The Dance Floor” and a long but effective, fast-paced intro leads us to more familiar territory as we recognise the band’s style pretty much straight away. The chorus stands out as one of the best on the album and injects a dose of sadness to a tune which, it has been suggested, was possibly written with the untimely death of friend of the band DJ AM in mind. “Natives” is another energetic track which begins with a busy, hyper intro. It quickly develops into a moody, almost Placebo-esque angst-filled tune with an ironically calm chorus which somehow works surprisingly well.
“Up All Night” is the first single to be released from the album and it does build up interestingly with a more electronic sound mixed in with heavier riffs and clean vocals. The track works in waves, going faster or slower here and there and not necessarily in the expected places. A moodier chorus could have elevated this one to a more uniformly good song but I guess the fact it’s experimental is kind of the point so overall it does what it set out to do pretty well. A paced drum beat opens the more chilled-out “After Midnight” and, frankly, it’s a weird one to have released as a single seeing as the album includes far better, catchier songs. The chorus here is anti-climactic and simply lacks bite.
As for “Snake Charmer”, it crawls in with a sinuous bass and drums-led intro as a cool, heavy riff kicks in promising to be the perfect concert track. Unfortunately, the verses and chorus are far whinier than they probably should have been and you get a samey feel from the song in general. That said, the rockier parts are admittedly entertaining. The sixth song on the album is an atmospheric, vocals-less intro to the next track and it makes a fair transition.
We get a heavier, rockier start straight away with “Heart’s All Gone” and it looks set to be a genuinely worthy, punky tune… until the way too light and emo chorus. It ends up feeling not convincingly edgy despite brilliant work from drummer Travis Barker and the trio in general who are always musically sound at least.
Then comes “Wishing Well”, the real hit (and should-have-been single) of the album: it’s pure Blink-182 complete with a playful sing-a-long bridge and a very catchy chorus. It’s possibly the most memorable and consistent song on the album, probably because it develops well and ends up being ultimately a lot of fun. Another decent tune follows, “Kaleidoscope”, and this time we get Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge working together on the vocals more directly. It’s a typical track from the band but in a good way.
Now, if you like your songs packed with meaningless sounds like “ah ah aye” and “high ho” then the next track, “This Is Home”, is the track for you. It’s not bad (if nothing special) but it does sound like it was half written by the Seven Dwarves, which is a tad distracting. The beautifully titled “MH 4.18.2011” (originally meant to be called “Hold On”) sadly never really takes off so the more serious lyrics don’t really have an impact. This is the kind of track that Green Day, like it or not, can pull off really well and although the song does have some nice parts here and there it’s sort of forgettable.
“Love Is Dangerous” goes for a different beat and, armed with a memorable chorus, it somehow manages to be one of the best songs on the album even if I’m still not sure what the hell “Love is DANGEROHS” means. It could just be DeLonge’s odd pronunciation of that last word, though, I don’t know…
“Fighting The Gravity” is a slower, more experimental, still rather angsty track which inventively uses the words ‘This makes no sense’ as a recurring backing motif. Incidentally, the song is a bit messy. Finally, we end on “Even If She Falls”, a track very reminiscent of the band’s past hit “All The Small Things”. It’s an entertaining track and its familiarity should make fans of the old stuff nostalgic as it really is 100% Blink-182 all the way.
Well well, what to make of Neighborhoods?
Funnily enough, the album benefits from repeat listens. I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan upon hearing it for the first time but a few songs on the album have grown on me over time so I could see fans of the band have a good time with this one. Actually, while uneven, the album is a very solid comeback album for Blink-182 with some hidden hits in there and promising new touches.
However, Neighborhoods really could have used more variety in terms of the songs and bolder, more unexpected moves as a lot of it either sounds too familiar or too tame. Perhaps exploring the electronic aspect could be an idea or just going all-out punk, putting the emo angst aside for a bit?
Also, that good old sense of humour simply must return.
Overall, that’s 3 Teary Punks out of 5.