Before we get into each song. Buy the deluxe version. It flows much better and is obviously how the band intended the album to be heard.
Ghost on the Dancefloor (8.5/10)
Really fun catchy opening track. Begins with an infectious poppy guitar riff made for dancing. Lyrically it is about hearing a song that reminds you of time spent with a close friend who has died. The chorus is very anthemic, and Mark's harmonies highlight a major asset blink have over most bands, two sings whose vocals work wonderfully together.
Natives then explodes, showcasing for the first time (but thankfully not the last) the utterly incredible talents of Mr Travis Barker. The opening riff is reminiscent of Young London by Angels and Airwaves, but the pace of the song are much more punk rock than AvA. The verses are delivered quickly with a chugging drive by Tom, and it is good to hear him singing something a little more frenetic than we have been used to. Mark takes chorus vocal duties, keeping the theme of heavy guitars and dark lyrics.
Up All Night (7.5)
You've probably all heard this already. Works better in the context of the album than as a first single. The opening riff is quite cool and used again as an outro-breakdown. Nice how they trade lines throughout the verses. Again, lyrically dark, but delivered over quite light guitars (apart from the riff), with strong stadium rock sensibilities. Not a disappointment, but if you weren't a fan of this, do not fear. It is not a highlight.
After Midnight (8/10)
A slow love song. Beautifully written, with Tom taking the verses and Mark the chorus. Quite light, dreamy guitar lines play beneath the singing. The tempo is not too dissimilar to I Miss You, though it is not as catchy.
Snake Charmer (8/10)
One of the most experimental tracks. Opens with a riff very similar to The Machine by AvA. The verses are very stripped back with bass and a minor key piano line exploding into a catchy, easy-to-sing-along- to chorus. The topic is Adam and Eve, with the stand out line "Good girls like to sin" repeated several times. The outro is an instrumental version of the verses. Even a little bit like Freak On A Leash by Korn (in a good way!)
Heart's All Gone Interlude
The interlude is magic. At first it reminds me of Adam's Song intro slowed down and made more haunting, as if they are looking back at that and sad that those times are over, then towards the end when the guitar comes in and makes it a little less sombre it's as if they are looking forward, then BOOM...Heart's All Gone
Heart's All Gone (8.5/10)
If any song deserves the speakers turning to 11, it's this. Travis owns from start to finish, and Mark's harsh, strained vocals give the song a lot of energy. Very fast, very dark, very punk. The instrumental bridge is shows similarities to Stockholm Syndrome but overall it is a mix between Dude Ranch and +44.
Wishing Well (9.5/10)
This is where the album starts to become a true classic. A heavily Tom influenced song. Light, summery guitars and an incredibly catchy verse melody are matched by a very pop-rock and infectious chorus, with some great da-da-da-da-da-da's thrown in for good measure. Lyrically quite poetic with lines such as "I reached out for a shooting star. It burned a hole through my hand. It made its way through my heart. I found it at the promised land."
The best song on the album. It starts with a completely addictive, clean riff and some not-so-straightforward background work from Travis. Mark seems a lot more relaxed singing this one, intentional of course as it proves a great foil for when Tom explodes in a crescendo for the chorus. Utterly singable and easy to get stuck in your head. Quite dark and thoughtful. A piano then accompanies the 2nd chorus, adding to the depth of the song. Travis drums purposefully with background guitars slowly building through the bridge, a momentary drop, and then the chorus hurtles back like you were begging it too. The outro is almost a remix, the odd lyric from Tom drifting along, scrambling certain words. The combination of a great riff, Mark's enchanting (and very unusual) lyrics, and Tom's heavy introduction at the chorus are just sublimely weaved together into a song which would work insanely well live or on radio.
This Is Home (9/10)
Time to lighten the mood a little with another pop song from Tom. Lyrically reminiscing of what kids get up to (think Reckless Abandon). Quite heavy synth influences, almost like something from The Killers Hot Fuss album. The line "We dance like f**king animals" is great. Another catchy chorus, lead by Tom with great Mark harmonies. The bridge sees Mark take an understated bass solo before the chorus returns. A sing-along anthem. Summery like Wishing Well.
MH 4.18.2011 (9.5/10)
Fast, fun, and definitely one of the throwbacks they promised. Includes the lyric a lot of people have complimented, "Stop living in the shadow of a helicopter". The verses are extremely infectious, and the chorus is archetypal pop-punk. Could come straight off Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.
Love Is Dangerous (7/10)
The final song on the standard edition of the album. A slow but quite epic opening guitar line is followed by a nice co-led vocal line by both Tom and Mark. The chorus, while not instantly forgettable, doesn't offer anything particularly striking. The phrase "Love Is Dangerous" which is repeated quite a few times is a little bit of a cliché and drops short of the epic statement it is attempting to make, although quiet singing of an alternative chorus line from Mark in the background is quite innovative. The synth used is very reminiscent of AvA and while the song is not hard to listen to, you aren't left wanting anymore once it's finished.
Fighting The Gravity (8.5/10)
This one splits opinion. Very dark and experimental from Mark, it slowly arises, eventually introducing some ghostly background vocals from Mark repeating "It makes no sense". Eventually Mark's verse comes in and the bleak, haunting direction of the song continues with lots of effects and simple drumming. It is cleverly done to suggest Mark is singing but the song is going on over the top of his pleas for help. Think Weatherman by +44 meets the Welcome To Bangkok by Brand New, but with more enchantment than the other two combined. Very striking, very unusual, but adds a whole new dimension to the album all by itself.
Even If She Falls (9/10)
The last song on the deluxe edition. The intro is light, unobtrusive and a little bland, but Toms verses build, Travis' drums slowly quicken and it climaxes with a fantastically cool, pop chorus, where the same guitars from the intro seem so much more at home. Mark's harmonies again add extra depth to the chorus which makes Tom's singing so much more dynamic. A simple but friendly bridge then returns to the chorus, first stripped back, then in all its glory, leaving you no option but to finish listening to the album the way you started. Dancing.
Such a strong comeback. Relieved and ecstatic in equal measure.