Being a child of the 90s, Blink-182 is one of those bands that I will always have a fondness for. But as I entered my 20s and looked back on all the music that was popular when I was a teenager, I came to realize that Blink-182 were actually great musicians and not just a product of my own nostalgia. Sure their music was never complex, and the subject matter could be immature at times, but they had a gift for writing infectious pop music and crafting tight song structures.
I even overlooked their 2003 self-titled album upon its initial release. Going back to it now, there are many things that make that album interesting. The obvious would be that it was the band’s last record before they broke up. But it was also a progressive album for the band musically. A mature step that showed the band trying many different sounds. I mean, hell; there was even a guest spot by Robert Smith. Yet, for all the interesting things they did on that album, it still fell a little short of feeling complete. But it also felt like a stepping-stone to something greater. Unfortunately, we never got to see what it could evolve into as the band split their separate ways soon after.
Eight years later, we finally have the first new song from Blink-182. On paper, “Up All Night” is your typical Blink-182 song. Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge feed off each other as they trade off singing duties. DeLonge belts out his soaring choruses as Barker drums ferociously against the crashing guitar riffs. But for all the hard-hitting energy, something is off. The first thing I noticed when listening to this was the electronic swirls in the deceiving intro. They only briefly exist just to segue into a segment of crashing guitars. After that, the song kicks in and the boys trade off their vocals, and build into the uplifting chorus. But after multiple listens I realized, the heavy guitar in the intro, post-chorus, and the end of the song seem out of place. And really that is biggest problem with this song; it sounds like they took ideas from their various side projects and tried to glue them all together. It can feel jarring.
The other thing that struck me as being off was DeLonge. While his chorus part, on the surface, sounds like business as usual, I can’t help but notice that his vocals are more “whiny” than usual. It’s in how he drags his voice. I don’t want to point the finger, but I’m wondering how much of that is due to his time in Angels and Airwaves, a band that has spent years trying to be the new U2. At the end of the day, this is still a decent pop song. Yeah it’s not the best that Blink-182 can do. It sounds like they had an issue with the song structure. But it still feels good to have Blink back. Hopefully Neighborhoods is more diverse in sound than this. Hopefully their ideas are more concentrated and focused to make a more cohesive sound.