“Neighborhoods”: The Return of Blink-182
Issue   |   Wed, 11/02/2011 - 00:54
Image courtesy of soundcheckmusicblog.com
Blink-182’s first album in eight years, “Neighborhoods,” was released on Sept. 27 to a starved fanbase.

On Sept. 27, Blink-182 released its latest album, “Neighborhoods.” It was the group’s first album release in eight years, following the release of the self-titled “Blink-182” in 2003. To the fans who had waited through those eight long years, wearing out classic Blink tracks from the band’s first four albums, the possibility of another album release seemed minute. Most fans would not have dared to wish it. But the album is finally here, and after quite the hiatus, we can truly say that Blink-182 is back.

Blink-182 did not come to us without some amount of difficulty, however. At the height of its success in 2005, the band decided to take an indefinite hiatus after a disagreement between the band’s three members, (Mark Hoppus, the bassist and lead vocalist; Tom DeLonge, the guitarist, lead vocalist; and Travis Barker, the drummer), over a European tour they were about to embark upon. DeLonge wanted an extended break to spend time with his family, but Hoppus and Barker did not think the timing was right.

The disagreement resulted in a four-year breakup, during which each of the members worked on separate projects. Hoppus and Barker formed the band +44, and DeLonge formed and became the lead singer of the band Angels & Airwaves. It seemed to everyone, including the members of Blink themselves, that the reign of Blink-182 as the band that had spearheaded the punk-rock movement of the late ’90s and early ’00s had come to an end.

Barker’s survival of a plane crash in North Carolina in 2008, however, brought the three men back in contact with each other. According to Hoppus and DeLonge, Barker’s near date with death as the sole reason they were able to reconcile their differences and reform the band. At the 51st Grammy Awards in February 2009, the band announced its reformation, and went on a reunion tour that summer. The tour was limited to North America and was wildly successful, grossing $21.2 million with 22 of the 41 dates selling out. It seemed that the band’s hiatus had helped rather than hindered its ultimate success rather than a detriment, as it allowed fans to hang on until Blink-182’s reformation became a reality.

The pent-up anticipation over the eight years that they spent apart only increased the loyalty and intensity of their fan base, because those fans now had something to fight for, wish for and believe in. They had to wait a bit longer for new music from Blink, however, as the band spent the next two years after their reunion tour creating “Neighborhoods.”

Although Blink-182 had reformed, DeLonge was still working with Angels & Airwaves, Hoppus had his own TV show and Barker was working on collaborations with several hip-hop artists and DJs, resulting in the release of his album, “Give the Drummer Some” in March 2011 — all of which meant “Neighborhoods” took much longer to create than it would have.

In addition, although they returned to Interscope, (the label that they had released their self-titled 2003 album under), the band ultimately decided to self-produce the album and record the majority of it in their own home-based studios because their longtime producer, Jerry Finn, had died of a brain hemorrhage in 2008. The label’s implementation of a deadline (July 31, 2011) provided inspiration for the band to really get to work, and they premiered the album’s first single, “Up All Night.”

The single received mixed reviews and reactions from fans, as many complained that the sound savored too much of Angels & Airwaves and not enough of the classic Blink-182 sound that they so missed. The song felt a bit disjointed, oscillating between heavy guitar riffs to catchy melodies to DeLonge’s slow, melodic voice in the bridge, and thus Blink-182’s comeback was off to a somewhat shaky start, but there was no denying that they were back, as “Up All Night” reached No. 2 on the Alternative Songs Billboard chart.

The second single they released through Hoppus’ Google Plus account on Aug. 5 — a sign of recognition that they reformed Blink-182 in a completely different era than that in which they ended it. The band members are taking advantage of social media as a way to reach out to their fans and spread news about their album, with positive results. They each have Twitter accounts, Hoppus’ being the most popular one, with nearly two million followers, and their Facebook fan page has over five million fans.

Directly before the release of “Neighborhoods,” the band went on tour of North America again through the Honda Civic Tour, with bands like Matt & Kim and My Chemical Romance opening for them. The ultimate release of “Neighborhoods” on Sept. 27 was much anticipated, and deservingly so. From the very start of the album, with “Ghost On the Dance Floor”, which opens with very catchy Blink-esque riffs, it is apparent that although the band members have absolutely matured over the past eight years, they are still very much Blink-182.

The music video for “Up All Night,” in which the band plays the song surrounded by children and teenagers wreaking havoc on what seems to be a street of houses in classic suburbia, best exemplifies the growing up that the band has done, when thought of in comparison to their old music video for “What’s My Age Again?” in which the band members run around naked. They’ve outgrown their angsty, it’s-me-versus-the-world, lost-teenager lyrics, but not their sound or their heart. “Natives”, which follows “Up All Night” on the album, seems to be the song most reminiscent of the old Blink-182, as it is full of self-deprecating lyrics (“I’m just a bastard child/Don’t let it go to your head/I’m just a waste of your time/Maybe I’m better off dead”), and catchy guitar riffs, but songs like “This Is Home,” in which Hoppus sings, “Gunshots, the punks are rioting/The stage is slowly crumbling,” remind us of the dark, introspective turn that Blink-182 has taken with this album.
Rather than yelling about the unfairness of the world as they had in previous albums, in “Neighborhoods,” they take the world for what it is, and they ponder it. In so doing, Blink-182 has created what could possibly be their best album yet, and have brought us along with them in their journey towards growing up.

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