talking to myself about blink-182's neighborhoods
Welcome to your ten-year performance review, James.
Who am I? Don’t worry about that.
Why are my eyes red? Must’ve been crying.
What is this? Once every ten years, we get to have a conversation. I’m here to give you...reassurance.
Yeah, I know. You’re looking at me like I’m nuts. Luckily for you, I am! Unluckily for you, I’m you.
Yeah, I know. Every ten years, we get to talk.
Ten years since what? That 1,896 word piece you submitted to your high school newspaper yesterday on Neighborhoods? I’m here to audit you. It was published on your birthday, but I didn’t wanna ruin your birthday, because it’s my birthday too.
Why are we doing this? Because something happened.
Nah, our face is fine. That’s not what I’m talking about. We wear masks now. Well, some of us do.
I’m getting to that, hold on. Remember when everyone thought it was cute you were swine flu for Halloween in tenth grade? I know you wanted to just wear a pink shirt with “H1N1” on it so you could get away with wearing jeans. Right now, we have casual days all the time. I don’t even think we believe in God anymore. This is way worse than swine flu. It’s been eighteen months of this. Do you have any other questions about the future before we start?
I’m getting to that, James. Do you want some of this?
Oh, right. This is why my eyes are red.
Please stop crying, James. It’s okay.
Let’s begin. We actually can’t take a break right now. We don’t have a lot of time to look inward like this.
Why? Something happened.
I’m getting to that.
Anyway...whew! Headline. “Stockholm Syndrome is Over.” Oh, I’m not laughing at you, I was thinking of something else.
I like that they added your column name to the beginning of this. This is Sound. Didn’t we name it that because of Switchfoot? Nothing is Sound? Yeah, the future is so weird. In a couple years, you’re gonna interview Switchfoot. Just stay away from drugs.
We don’t have a ton of time today, so I’m doing you a favor and skipping the...let’s see here...939-word preamble that summarizes the entirety of the band’s career for some reason. I have a lot of Jameses to talk to today. Birthday’s coming up. Audit season. Let’s get started.
“And so here it is: the history vs. the new chapter. Is it as legendary as the pop-punk gods forecasted, or is it just a thorn in the side of blink’s relatively flawless discography?”
I’m gonna spoil something awful for you. Tom’s no longer in blink. He literally discovered aliens exist. It’s so sick. Who’s playing his parts? Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio. Can you please stop crying? I’m very busy in the future.
“Neighborhoods marks the first album of new material from our friends clad in beanies and board shorts since the maturity showcased in the untitled disc. That’s almost a decade of silence from pop-punk’s flagship trio – but Neighborhoods wastes no time with an exposition.”
The beanies were a new thing, James! You know this! It’s the Angels & Airwaves look! God dammit. I do like that we’ve always rode for calling it “untitled.”
“The opener, “Ghost on the Dance Floor” channels Angels & Airwaves’ spacey synths and the simple, clean guitar downstrums. While DeLonge heads the vocals for this song, the harmonies that served as contagious earworms in blink-182’s battalion of battled energy are intact.”
This song rules. Did you know Dad listens to this album all the time? He always runs to it in order, so this track really gets to him. There are like ten seconds of harmonies in this song. They recorded this in separate studios, bud. They really forced the fun here. Also, dude, what the fuck does “battalion of battled energy” mean? You need an editor. We need an editor.
“”Natives” serves as a hormonally-muted sequel to 2003’s single ”Feeling This,” with the unbridled force of the predecessor coalescing with a heavily-catchy, yet dark chorus that showcases Hoppus’ polarizing vocal range in comparison to DeLonge’s abrasive yelps.”
I know you didn’t take journalism because you’re in a million AP classes, but you should know that blink-182 fan Tumblrs are not credible sources for lyrical inspiration. I am also putting you in psychic timeout for this SAT-ass sentence. Shh, there’s no whining in timeout.
““Up All Night” – the single – showcases Barker’s powerful drumming caliber with a beat that is more ska that skate-punk, and the instrumentation sounds more off a Fireworks release than anything else, with hardcore roots that mirror the angst and power of a fellow trio – of the Alkaline variety.”
James, big lesson here: words mean things. I know that your writing is 99-percent namedropping and brainiac nightmares right now, but if you’re gonna keep writing about music (and you will), this doesn’t do anything. This is like a chip bag full of air. Hey! Still in timeout. I think this song is one of my least favorites now. Too many repeats of the 29-second preview before this dropped.
“After Midnight” – released free to the Internet given success at a remarkably frustrating online game – has one of the strongest choruses on the album. ”We’ll stagger home after midnight / Sleep arm-in-arm in the stairwell / we’ll fall apart on the weekend / these nights go on and on and on.” Coupled with Barker’s hip-hop-infused backbeat and DeLonge’s consistent guitar chugs similar to Green Day’s radio-rock staple ”Brain Stew,” it’s easily peggable as the second single.
Oh, I’m not laughing at you. “Peggable.”
Please broaden your Tumblr horizons before asking me stuff like this. The internet is free! I’m just an auditor!
This song rocks though, and I forgot about the game! Dad loves this one. Is the video out yet? It’s a total rip-off of that movie you love right now, It’s Kind of a Funny Story. That movie sucks. No offense, but a lot of stuff you think is deep is actually ass. Ten years is a long time. Playing chords like that was definitely invented by Green Day, James. Good historian. Anyway,
“Snake Charmer” is a dramatic retelling of the fall of Eden. It’s unlike anything else on the album, with an overreaching narrative that rivals the storytelling of The Wonder Years – but the absence of Mark Hoppus’ influence on this track leaves me a little on the disappointed side, despite the heavy but welcome reliance on a heavily-effected electronic interlude.
OK, first of all. What Wonder Years album are we on? Suburbia? I didn’t think we got to the lyrical genius argument until the next one. That’s our favorite. I don’t know. Did you know you’ll write for PropertyofZack? Shit’s so cool. I hate this song, though. It sucks, so I guess it is unlike anything else on the album. I also have some bad news about the absence of Mark Hoppus in part of your life.
“Heart’s All Gone” receives an interlude that totally contrasts with the energy of the track. This isn’t necessarily a poor choice, as its juxtaposition next to a skate-punk standard is jarring and unique, but at the same time, holding a tone that mirrors everything that preceded it, the interlude is almost an unnecessary addition to the tracklist. The song, however, a punk-rocker from the playbook of Pennywise is something that hardcore fans can truly appreciate, with Mark Hoppus’ rapid-fire pacing and ‘girl-gone-bad’ lyricism is reminiscent of their first record, Cheshire Cat, a 1996 underground CD.”
I really don’t get this Cheshire Cat reference. Have you listened to Cheshire Cat? It’s a hot mess. This is like...if you took “Waggy” and “Pathetic” but the narrator of “Go” wrote it. Just listen to vanilla Neighborhoods if you don’t like the interlude, but you’ll lose “Even if She Falls.”
Right. Totally not worth it.
“Wishing Well” could very well have found its way on an Angels & Airwaves album, but its pop-rock structure and sing-a-long chorus is more Simple Plan than Smashing Pumpkins and more Bodyjar than Bloc Party, and its inclusion on Neighborhoods is welcome for those who miss the charming innocence of their earlier releases.”
Here we are with Band Alphabet Soup: Aliteration Nation. Bloc Party? Angels & Airwaves? Are we just struggling to think of another “B” band? That’s sacrilege, James. Back in timeout. “Wishing Well” is sick, though. It never fails to make us feel good, ever. You will write this Facebook status more than once.
“Kaleidoscope” is my favorite song on the album (although by reviewer bias, you could say I love every track). The lyrics were leaked in early form by Hoppus on his Facebook account, and their poetic earnesty channel the urgency of emo pioneers Lifetime but DeLonge’s warranted wailing on the uptempo chorus transports the listener back into familiar, yet far-reaching territory with the continuation of the theme of remaining true to your gut – and not anyone else….which everyone here could take a hint from.”
We still think this. “Kaleidoscope” is the only song I can think of in the blink canon that’s written in the second-person for any part of it? At least as a prevailing structure? That really stuck out to me when I first heard it. Travis really shines here, even more than Tom’s chorus, which I do think is one of his better moments here. I am begging you to stop acting like you’re cooler than everyone. In a couple years, you are going to suck harder than you’ve ever sucked. Easy.
“This Is Home” is yet another radio-friendly rocket, launching off with the melodious texture of modulated synths and a vocal melody that Man Overboard wishes they could pen. It’s an uptempo song perfect for summer….a little too late on the timing, guys. But, good job nonetheless – you’ve got me tapping my foot.”
Please tell me what you think a “modulated synth” is, but I think Man Overboard ended up writing a melody just like this for one of their more recent records. You’re gonna move to Philly and see this band “reunite.” Believe it or not, defending pop punk has an expiration date.
”MH 4.18.2011” hides some deep prose within a shell that even fans of My Chemical Romance can appreciate (it seems fitting that MCR and blink are co-headlining the annual Honda Civic Tour together). ”Stop living the shadow of a helicopter,” Hoppus suggests, fighting off the consistent themes of alienation and conformity that plague the record thus far.”
This song destroys. I love it. Just so you know: MCR is gonna break up and then get back together and everyone you know and love is gonna lose their minds. Some people make music that’s as good as MCR now. The future is kinda nice.
““Love Is Dangerous” is a shiner as well. (This is where the regular edition of the album ends, in case you were wondering.) With a drumbeat that’s similar to ”Up All Night,” Hoppus and DeLonge handle vocal melodies perfectly, while spacey synths a la ”Always” lull the listener into a tale that the title forecasts. The track ends with Travis pumping out a military-style beat with a symphony of pre-programmed drum machines and downtuned guitars closing out the ethereal Neighborhoods.”
This song is a huge turd. Sorry, James. We gotta wrap this up before this song puts me to sleep.
“Bonus Tracks – ”Fighting the Gravity” is sluggish and weird, reminiscent of a deep cut from Depeche Mode’s back catalog, but ”Even If She Fails” is straight from 2001, with an opening riff that screams summer drives….or hoodie weather, depending on your preference. A definite charmer.”
I’ve come around on “Fighting the Gravity” so far that it’s actually one of the album’s more interesting and worthwhile moments, but that’s what “aging well” is for. I know you’re in love for the first time, and you’re gonna meet her in two weeks, and it’s gonna be one of those things that you’re hearing this song through for a couple years. I promise you, it sounds way better now.
“THE VERDICT – although it’s probably obvious
Neighborhoods was worth the wait. Granted, the bespectacled handsome columnist wears the blink-182 wristband from Hot Topic more than a smile, and his proudly-worn band tee has shrunk to the size of a six-year old’s favorite top; I’m a huge fan of blink-182 – all aspects of the band make my day. I was a little apprehensive reviewing this album because Angels & Airwaves wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, and their influence shows liberally on the record. That unfortunate truth aside, it’s refreshing to know that the trio never abandoned the roots that made them so fantastic. Welcome back. It’s a great day in the neighborhood.”
Bro, you love Angels & Airwaves. I-Empire rocks and you know it. You’re gonna quote “Rite of Spring” in your graduation speech, you little phony. I’m glad you had fun, though. You don’t really have fun anymore.
Is that what happened? See, that’s kinda why I wanted to talk. All of what you’re outrunning right now is gonna catch up to you. Academia will soon not be an escape and you will try to find your people and your heart and you will lose the path more than you will be on it. Your brain has changed, our brain is changed. It’s no longer just about music and words and feeling different. It’s all of that and everything I’ve been auditing. For ten years. I’m gonna have to keep doing it, keep moving forward. Looking back is where we’ve always gotten stuck, isn’t it?
You’re asking me if you’ve passed this review? We’re alive.
There’s that bunch of lines on “Kaleidoscope”: “delete the progress on your game / try to fall asleep while your ears ring / from the loudest songs on your mix tape / I can dance to anything you wanna sing.” Every year, that part comes in differently. Do I focus on the steady, aggressive backbeat as the images of stuttering and static clatter inside my skull just as violently? Is the stress on certain words: delete, the cousin to Tom’s no action in the next bit? Or, do we dance?
We danced last night. They let us wear Vans to the wedding. The DJ faded in the intro to “All the Small Things,” so it didn’t register that it was blaring until a cluster of people cheered you on. You told them the night before, over dinner and drinks, that your favorite band was blink-182. That’s never been not true, and you’ve never not said it. We know this. It was last night, on a dance floor caked with sweat and surrounded by joy, we felt some joy. That’s when I knew I could reach you.
You will find out that some of your dreams are attainable but they’re hollow. Your bucket list is too short right now. You don’t know what you’ll be able to do: you’re not even who you think you are. You just don’t know it yet. But you will. We’ll catch up to each other eventually.