on 4 July 2012
Given how massive Blink were when they released the un-titled album back in '03 it must have been hard to return after so long. All the members have played in different bands since then and I think the different styles mix very well in this album. My initial reaction was that it had some good bits but was a bit hit and miss. However I think it really does grow on you, particularly with regards to the lyrics. In terms of other albums it probably follows on more closely from the un-titled album than previous ones (as to be expected really) so if you were a fan of that album this one is a must buy. Another thing that is obviously different is Tom's vocals which are a bit love-hate, I personally love them but I know people who disagree ;).
Track by track run-through:
1. Ghost on the Dance floor 8/10 - Begins with a great intro which is kinda AVA reminiscent but definitely blink inspired. The lyrics are very good; they're (in vague terms) about remembering someone who has died. Lyrically it follows on nicely from Not Now which was the ending track from the un-titled album. However the guitar riff and vocals in the chorus I feel are lacking in melody which can make the song seem a bit monotonous on the first listen.
2. Natives 9/10 - One of my favourites from the album. The intro is very similar to 'Young London' by AVA but with a nice driven bass underneath it. Tom sings fast-paced verses with have a great dark feel and really kick start this album off as being different to previous works. Mark's chorus vocals are very good and the exchange between him in the chorus and Tom in the verses works very well. Lyrically this is the best song on the album and you can't help but feel it expresses the band's own difficulties - 'We'll have the time of our lives although we're dying inside'. I think it very much sets the tone for the album.
3. Up All Night 5/10 - I still don't like this song. No matter how many times I hear it, it just doesn't hit me. The intro riff is very cool but the verse feel forced and I don't really associate with the lyrics. The exchanges between tom and mark in the verses don't fit quite right. The chorus is better with a great guitar riff. Strange choice for a first single, I don't really feel it represents the album very well. Also the outro doesn't fit right; the final chorus ends then it goes back into the intro rather than having a separate outro.
4. After Midnight 7/10 - This was one that grew on me. The first listen I felt it was a bit lacking as there isn't a lot of drive behind the verses. But after a couple of listens I really started to appreciate the way the guitar compliments the lyrics and sentiment and the great switch to the chorus. Reminds me a bit of 'I Miss You' but not as good. Lyrically good with the theme of love without being too cheesey. The video to this song is AMAZING! (Youtube it ;))
5. Heart's All Gone 7.5/10 - Sounds a bit like a mix of old-school era Blink and +44. Works well and the song has an awesome introduction with killer drum work. The lyrics are great and continue the darker theme of this album. I also really like the interlude which has a great build up and some nice bass work from Mr. Hoppus. My only gripe with this song is Mark's vocals. They're almost too strained and I feel it works much better the way they perform it live with Tom singing the end of each line in the verses. One for the punk-rock fans.
6. Wishing Well 8/10 - I love Tom's vocals in this song. I think he makes the perfect pop-punk singer, but as I said before some people can't stand them so I guess it's just personal taste. Really catchy song with some great lyrics in both the verses and the chorus. This song I feel describes Tom pretty well ('I'm a little bit shy, a bit strange, and a little bit manic). It's a lot more reminiscent of some earlier blink stuff but I think the lyrics are deeper than anything you would find on 'Take off your pants and jacket'.
7. Kaleidoscope 6/10 - This is one that I'm not too sure about. Sometimes I really like it and other times I don't. It starts with a clean(ish) guitar riff and some great drumming. Mark sings the verses which lyrically seem to about troubles recording the album. I don't really feel it kicks off very well and I'm not a massive fan of the lyrics. However I really like Tom's chorus which is sung very well and leads in nicely from the verse. I also think the chorus lyrics are a lot more relatable - 'It's the first time that I worried, of a bad dream, of a journey on the highway through the valley, It's a long road through the night.' Not something you'd find on their other albums for sure, but definitely worth a listen.
8. This is Home 6/10 - Don't really feel too much from this song. Very early (TOYPAJ era) blink reminiscent but with some AVA-like synths aswell. Tom does a good punk rock vocal performance and the lyrics are light hearted.
9.MH 4.18.2011 7.5/10 - Musically it is very TOYPAJ reminiscent and lacking slightly I feel in a great guitar riff. Lyrically however it's deeper and fits well in the overall mood of the album. Would have been nice to have some vocal harmonies between the two singers on this one.
10. Love is Dangerous 6/10 - I really like the intro which builds up nicely and the verses flow well. The chorus also fits nicely with Mark singing behind Tom's vocals. Just feels a bit like it's lacking something though.
on 8 November 2013
Everything positive that could be said about Neighborhoods already has been said. Clearly the album could have been better, but given the situation the band was in, the fact that they still churned out an album of this quality shows just how good they are. Ghosts On The Dance Floor, Up All Night, After Midnight and Wishing Well are personal favourites, but one song that really should have been on the regular version is Even If She Falls. Clearly, Deluxe Editions require something to lure people in, but had this track been on the regular version, there would have been no need for a deluxe version as the inclusion of that song would have given this album 5 stars.
Nonetheless, very enjoyable and with the release of Dogs Eating Dogs, we can surely look forward to something brilliant from Blink next time.
on 18 May 2012
After Blink 182 split up in 2005, off the back of the self-titled album - their most musically impressive and mature album, it seemed as if they would never return again. Tom started up his band Angels and airwaves, and Mark and Travis began +44 and then decided to go into producing instead. As a huge fan of Tom's band's material I decided that Blink were history and they finished on a high with easily their best album to date. Many fans would miss them forever but I knew I had left them in the past (with my PE kit!). Then in 2011 after a band reunion and a couple of years of dabbling about with music they release Neighbourhoods, well-overdue! After putting it off for about a month I decided to get the deluxe album (imported!) with the 4 extra tracks (because I really wanted to get the whole feel for the album). Jerry Finn - the bands late producer since Enema of the state, passed away in 2008 and that left them with having to produce it for themselves. The album artwork for the album is very bland with the block drawing of the buildings in black and white and the inner booklet doesn't get anymore creative! Blink's artwork has always been good in the past (especially the self-titled smiley face) but just like the music there's no passionate effort entailed.
The lead single Up all night showed a different style for the band. There was a Blink 182 style to it but the lyrics were much about philosophy and less about genuine feelings and honest rock music like on the self-titled. I hoped for better for the rest of the album!
After years apart doing their own thing the band just doesn't work together anymore. The album is a mess of OK and just plain bad parts. There doesn't seem to be any synchronicity with them and with Tom trying to heavily influence the album with his AVA music and Mark and Travis bringing in their efforts; 5 years after making their last album, it's pretty much a shambles. There's quick flares of decency and then its drowned out with mediocre, boring music. Each member has talent on their instrument but they can't make it come together successfully. Tom's voice spoils the whole album for me - it's just abysmal! I don't know what's happened to him but ever since Love he sounds like he's gargling throughout every song! His Californian twang has just got ridiculous and outright laughable!
Ghost on the dance floor brings us in sounding like the intro of any Angels and airwaves song since I-empire. The guitar riff is pretty good but the lyrics are vague and there's no melody at all. Natives picks up the pace with a pretty punk song. It's one of the few best! There's a good rhythm to it and Mark and Tom each have their part and play it quite well. It's the only song where they both work together properly. Shame this doesn't happen for the rest of the album. There's barely any harmonies by Mark and Tom (prevalent through the self-titled) and this is just one indication of how the band are not working together like last time. Up all night is a disappointment for me but has grown on me with it's drop D guitar tuning and interesting drumming. After midnight is reminiscent of Feeling this for me (the romantic part) with Tom's voice in the verse and Mark in the chorus. It's OK sounding but it's spoilt by cheesy lyrics (although parts of them sound emo). Snake Charmer is one of the best but isn't on the standard issue. It's got a heavy intro and some clever lyrics inspired by the biblical story of Adam and Eve. It's got a big outro which is followed by Heart's all gone interlude (a must have in my opinion because it brings in Heart's all gone and brings the album together). It's a moody piece and gives a different feeling to the following song. Clearly a Mark penned song HAG is a +44 style punk song with a fast beat and hostile lyrics. It's pretty good and Mark's and Travis' most impressive effort. Wishing well is one of Tom's worst performances vocally, with dodgy lyrics and a hybrid of AVA feel and Blink 182 influence that doesn't work. Kaleidoscope is very mediocre throughout with melancholy lyrics and once again spoilt by Tom's voice in the chorus and bridge. This is home is pretty good in parts with a catchy guitar riff and backed with synthesizers. The lyrics are quite humorous but as with every other song it lacks the energy I used to love on Blink's songs but does have Tom and Mark harmonising in the chorus. MH 4.18.2011 (untitled in other words!) is a weak, dreary song, lead by Mark with a chorus inspired by military control. Love is dangerous is another heavily influenced by AVA song but is nowhere near as strong, with very corny and pretty dodgy lyrics and a philosophical message to it. Fighting the gravity is pretty good overall and has that +44 emo style to it. The intro and outro are a little overblown but the chorus and verse is very moody. Instrumentally it's pretty unimpressive though. Even if she falls is AVA influenced and just pure cheese! Many may see the lyrics and sound as sweet but I feel they're monotonous!
After years apart from each other it's damaged the sound of their music and what each member can bring to the table. They're just not a band who can work together with 3 different tastes. They just don't work as a unit anymore and the result is hurt by it. It's a shame they didn't just leave it after the self-titled because in my humble opinion they are a shadow of their former selves.
on 26 September 2011
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.
on 16 July 2012
I have to be honest and admit it took me quite a while to really get into Neighbourhoods. First thoughts were that it was decent but not up to the level of their previous work and perhaps Blink were past their sell-by date.
However, after getting back into it a couple of months back it has turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all-time.
Neighbourhoods has all the energy of earlier records but with a maturity which has obviously been brought on by the dark times the band have experienced in recent years.
If I had to pick one particular song out then 'Natives' is pure class and I am surprised it has not received a lot more exposure than it has.
If you like Blink 182 then stick with this album for a while and maybe come back to it if you were not initially blown away. Enjoy!
on 14 October 2011
Musically the album is great. It has a good balance of really fast punk and slower material similar to their eponymous previous album. Not much remnant of their early days - no toilet humour or joke songs - the lyrics are quite mature, building on similar themes to the previous album. I think the music is the key here - there are more experimental synth segments, and the segues between tracks (in the deluxe version) make it a great listen as an album. There are some standout songs (Wishing Well, Ghost on the Dancefloor), especially where the vocal harmonies blend, but I'm enjoying it as a whole piece at the moment.
My criticisms relate to the production. First, as an mp3 download it misses out on some of the seconds between tracks, which makes the transition (even on a player with seamless song transitions) occasionally jump. CDs are mastered to play back short audio segments between tracks (you occasionally will see it playing [-00:00:02] whilst a small amount of audio or silence transitions between tracks), so I think I would have preferred to be patient and buy the CD version.
This album is a classic example of the loudness wars. All producers now master songs as loud as possible for impact, and as volumes have increased, audio quality has degraded. This album is maxed out, with lots of digital clipping - not just of the drum transients, but of the rest of the audio too. The bass frequencies are a culprit here. Sadly it makes the album difficult to listen through without getting a headache.
A shame, because otherwise its a great reminiscence of the hazy youthful sound of my teenage years. This is Blink-182, catchy as ever, a bit more grown up, and very very loud.
on 12 October 2011
This was a surprise in 2 ways. Firstly I was taken aback at how unlike the band's other releases this was, and secondly because I had to finally acknowledge that this is possibly one of the best releases of the year. Blink were never particularly creative or edgy in my mind. They still aren't to a large degree but the quality that is packed into the 14 tracks here is proof indeed of a far more serious remit for the band as a whole while not expounding any morose, emo-cholic dirges similar to those that haunted their self-titled album prior to the break-up. Blink 182 was patchy, if not brave. Neighbourhoods is positively new and special.
The sound of the old chugging powerchords and simple melodies are gone. Ghosts of these can still be heard but in a less frenetic or loud fashion. Everything here is subtle, clean and catchy but with less emphasis on oomph. It does smack slightly of DeLonge's other concern, Angels and Airwaves - but in a refreshing way. And the opener, 'Ghost on the Dancefloor' is the perfect statement of intent. It's unusual, un-Blink and very dance-orientated but is catchy as heck and a near perfect wall of sound. The most Blink-sounding track on the album follows. And this is actually my personal favourite as they have managed to marry the electronica tone with the Blink of old to create a perfect template for how the band sound in 2011 (at time of writing). It's contagious, fast, tricky, technical, perfectly executed and insanely catchy. A classic. 'Up All Night' is similar and is a great track but feels like a spectre of their former selves. But it can be viewed as a classic also. 'After Midnight' is mid-paced and doesn't stand out at first. But after a few listens I found myself humming to its subtle melodies without realising it. No classic but a 4 star track by my criteria. 'Snake Charmer' is similar in quality but has more of a chorus. It's haunting, catchy and just different. 'Heart's all Gone' is another very Blink-sounding track. It's similar to 'Natives' and equally as good. The interlude also helps it's abrupt start after 'Snake Charmer'.
'Wishing Well' is another unbelievably catchy tune. It sounds slight, as the production on the whole album is rather understated and - dare I say - quiet. But it is a giant. 'Kaleidoscope' follows and is another one of my favourites. Stunning chorus and a great epic sound. 'This is Home' is gentler and has a keyboard riff that reminds of Joy Division. It is another excellent, well-constructed and poignant song. 'MH 4.18.2011' is more of a Blink-of-old track with a punchy chorus and driving guitars (still downplayed somewhat). It's all Mark and it's great. 'Love is Dangerous' is another VERY Joy Division sounding track. It reminds of 80s electronica and new romantics. But it's a new classic. It is very good indeed. 'Fighting the Gravity' is an odd one. It sounds as if they have gone too far and produced an ephemeral wisp of a tune that relies solely on drum machines and waves of melody. After a few listens you begin to relaise that it is also great. The closer, 'Even If She Falls', is an upbeat, catchy number to finish it all off perfectly. The chorus is perfect.
So not really Blink 182. More Blink 183 really. Gone are the jokey pop punk tunes. Gone is the volume. But the fun is still there and the heart that is on display is of a far less cheesy nature than previously seen. This feels like time and effort have been made in order to make the best record they possibly could. And they have. I still love Enema and Take off... and Cheshire Cat to a lesser extent, but this is by far the best album the band have produced to date. Many may balk at the transition that has occurred. But if you like music (not just rock) then this should appeal to most.
Get the deluxe version as the loss of the extra 4 tracks is actually debilitating to the pleasure when listening as there are NO bad tunes on this one. Wow - never thought this would be my pick of the year so far....
on 9 October 2011
`Indefinite Hiatus', the words that make every Blink-182 fan shed a small tear back in 2004. The pop-punk band of the late 90s and early 00s were, to many, the band which defined their teenage years. The band that got them through college, the band that they sung along to at school discos or simply the band with that whiny guy. 2009 saw the three, now grown men, Tom, Mark and Travis forgetting old quarrels and choosing to make music once more. And boy, did we wait with finally, the emergence of the 2011 album, `Neighborhoods' last month, which saw the revival of the trio. Now if you're looking for another `Enema of the State' I'm afraid you may just be stuck in 1999 because this is definitely not "old Blink". The transformation from `Take off Your Pants' is criminal, but of the good kind. Side projects from the band members (+44 and Angels and Airwaves) sought to fill the gap between the split, and of course it would naïve to suggest that these have not had their influences on the record. Being completely honest my first listen to the record brought about emotions of shock, anger and hysterics (typical woman you may think). How could they make a record that sounds so different to everything we know and love? (With the record being very Delonge influenced). I had not prepared for this; I was swept up in the American Pie era and you seem to forget these "boys" are not "boys" anymore. They have grown and matured, as their fans have and as their music has. Their move away from the past is profound with tracks such as, `This Is Home' and `Love is Dangerous' demonstrating Tom's unknown vocal abilities. In fairness tracks such as `Even If She Falls', `Natives' and `Kaleidoscope' could have had a place on any one of the old albums and the powerful `Hearts All Gone' echo the simple punk nature of the band. The catchy boppers of `Up All Night' and `After Midnight' are sure to grab your attention and firmly cement Travis as one of the best drummers of our generation. The experiences of the trio have in the past few years have been quite distressing and this album is undeniably a product of that fact. `Neighborhoods' is packed with harrowing and dark lyricism and the venture away from the pop-punk genre and into progressive rock is evident. However this record is pure and simple a Blink record, albeit the cover is slightly bland and I would not put money on the guys getting naked in videos anytime soon. This album will fundamentally capture back the hearts of the fans that have stuck by them since 1994 and capture many more with the new direction the band have taken. Hoppus himself stated the band would've `rather stayed broken up than make a sloppy record' and this many will salute. I recommend playing this album loudly from your stereo, and try not to be put off with the synth, which creeps into most tracks (Pesky 80s). Ultimately these men are crazy-brilliant musicians and have changed the world of the pop-punk forever as well as the lives of many, including mine and when the time came for them to act their age again...they did.
on 21 November 2012
Is it me or is there a minor battle between Blink-182 and Green Day?
While, being British, I would debate that 'punk' or 'punk rock' are valid terms to use in connection to either band - 'angry adolescent' is a more appropriate genre - both bands have steadily matured they music from loud garage band records to works of art.
Although their album, Blink 182 is the best they have ever produced and is unlikely bettered in the near future, this album comes a very close 2nd place. It is the sort of album you put on repeat and listen to numerous times before feeling like something new.
The first track "Ghost on the dance floor" is a great start and it takes a few second to spot the Blade Runner/Vangelis riff sampled in there - which only adds to the spiritual ambiance.
"Wishing Well" have some very clever phrase and will soon have to trying to sing along.
"Kaleidoscope" is another instant classic and as it follows straight on from "Wishing Well", you end up in a very 'bouncy' state after 10 minutes are great music.
The final track "Love is dangerous" is a great way to end the album and actually feeds nicely back into the start again.
I would rate it 9.5/10 for this Blink album and given the ridiculously low price of CDs nowadays, you have to be made not to get it.
My only compliant is the album feels quite short. This is probably because you want it to go on longer.
on 4 October 2011
Regardless of what I was anticipating or hoping for from Blink's long awaited comeback album I am pleased to say I was hugely excited, but not at all surprised by what I heard. Thank God for a band who've made their comeback in the right way, not with a string of greatest hits and "those were the days" tours, but with a fresh and loyal sound that the fans should be proud of. While it's true that this album has taken a darker turn from some of their older and more humerous tracks, the record reflects perfectly the bands troubled days since their split while remaining true to their infectious punk-rock sound. The album feels like a natural progression from their previous and is definately a must-have. The boys have hit their comeback hard and I for one couldn't be happier.