The release of Blink-182’s latest EP “Dogs Eating Dogs” on Dec. 18 marked the band’s second release since their reunion in 2009. Although they reunited in 2009, they didn’t come out with “Neighborhoods” until 2011, which meant that fans weren’t quick to hold their breath in anticipation of new material any time soon. “Dogs Eating Dogs” should by no means be considered to be the stopgap that most EPs are, however. Luckily for their fans, the music on this five-track EP shines bright with the kind of quality and cohesiveness that the band of three — Mark Hoppus (bassist, lead vocalist), Tom DeLonge (guitarist, lead vocalist) and Travis Barker (drummer) — was unable to attain in “Neighborhoods.” If fans thought that “Neighborhoods” signified the return of Blink-182, they could not have been more wrong. Now they have truly returned.
Fans saw a solid effort present in “Neighborhoods,” but knew that that album was nowhere near the quality that Blink-182 is known to be capable of. This can partly be attributed to their long split, which could have caused them to be a bit rusty as they tried to get back into their old punk skins; however, this is far from being the primary reason. The two main factors were that Barker was still recovering from a horrific 2008 plane crash and that they recorded the album separately, communicating through emails.
“To me already, this EP is a hundred times better than ‘Neighborhoods,’” said Barker to the Rolling Stone. “Because we’re all in a room together. There are some songs on “Neighborhoods” that I love, but for the most part it was disconnected. It was like, ‘You do this part in your studio, and then you’re gonna play on it and send it back to me.’ When we’re not in the studio together, you don’t have the opportunity to gel off each other.”
This flawed dynamic coupled with the fact that, according to Barker, it was “way too soon” after his accident to be working again caused “Neighborhoods” to give off a disjointed feel. This is not the case when it comes to “Dogs Eating Dogs;” although each song has very unique sounds, they come together in a way that the songs on “Neighborhoods” simply could not. It is for this reason that this EP shouldn’t be seen as simply a bridge to their next full-length album, but as a record that stands on its own — an emblem of the real effort that the members of Blink-182 have put in to being a band again. “Dogs Eating Dogs” is the first EP, and their first album at all for that matter, that they have produced on their own since splitting from their record label Interscope in October. Their attitude in creating “Dogs Eating Dogs” was a celebratory one, as they consider the EP to be “for the fans” and their one rule that “there are no rules.”
The band released their first single, a holiday song entitled “Boxing Day” off of the EP, on Dec. 18 This song is vastly different from their old holiday song, “Happy Holidays, You Bastard,” which was crude and off-color. “Boxing Day” is their first ballad-like song since their 2003 hit “I Miss You,” and the two songs share a further commonality in their main themes, which revolve around the power of unattainable love. The refrain of “Boxing Day” laments, “I’m empty like the day after Christmas/Swept beneath the wave of your goodbye.” The song has a surprising indie feel to it and strays far from the nitty-gritty punk flavors that have become staples of Blink-182’s sound. They retain some of that style through Barker’s electronic kit, however. Although “Boxing Day” is by no means representative of the rest of the music on the EP, it was commendable of them to use such a different song for their first single, as it demonstrates a confidence in their ability to continue to grow as a band without always having to stick to the feel of their older stuff.
Although “Boxing Day” is the softest song on the EP, its message is the darkest. The other five songs, though faster and heavier, are not devoid of hope in the way that “Boxing Day” and much of their classic songs are, demonstrating their transition into true adulthood. There is a still lot of angst but it is a more mature kind of angstl Blink-182 couldn’t remain a band of angry young men forever. This is best exemplified in their final track titled “Pretty Little Girl” and written by DeLonge for his wife. The song has a strong new wave vibe to it as a result of the use of synths and Hoppus’ strong bass, broken up by Barker’s aggressive drumming. “Pretty Little Girl” conveys a jaded and realistic, yet hopeful message through lyrics like: “It’s a cry from the past we have been through a lot/Every year has been great and a few have been tough/And your kids they will reach for the stars up above…We started alone in the end we’re okay.” This sweet, hopeful and nostalgic tone to the songs can almost reach the point of goofiness, however, such as in the Angels and Airwaves-esque track “Disaster” as DeLonge sings, “What do you fear my love?/Your soul, it will float like a dove.” “Dogs Eating Dogs” is the one song on the EP vocally led by Hoppus, and seems to be a fast-paced companion to “Boxing Day.” However, its lyrics are less hopeless than they are honest and vulnerable. This is exemplified in the refrain, where Hoppus sings: “I have a crippling fear of heights/’Cause this fall sounds a lot like a symphony of cries.”
“Dogs Eating Dogs” is an incredible success of an EP and demonstrates a great amount of improvement since the band’s reunion. Most importantly, it reassures fans that despite a hiatus, Blink-182 has not lost its talent and appeal; all they need to do is stay in a room together for a while longer, and they’ll be cranking out masterpieces again.