It has been eight long years since Blink-182’s last album. When the band announced they were getting back together two years ago, people were understandably excited. After all, pretty much everybody who grew up in the last two decades listened to Blink-182 at some point in their lives.
“Neighborhoods,” Blink-182’s sixth studio album, is a drastic change of style from what Blink fans may be used to. That was to be expected though. Nobody really assumed these guys, who are now pushing 40 years old, would still pen songs like “What’s My Age Again?” and “Dammit.”
With its synthesizers and Tom Delonge’s melodramatic vocals, opener “Ghost on the Dance Floor” immediately warns you that this is a band trying to experiment with new sounds. The result is completely forgettable. Luckily, they save face with “Natives,” which despite its downer lyrics, has enough catchy, quick riffs to appeal to old fans, while sounding like natural progression at the same time.
Baffling choice for a first single, “Up All Night,” sounds as if Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus are pretending to be filled with teen angst, and nobody is buying it. “Heart’s All Gone” is a particularly solid track, and would not sound too out of place on any of Blink-182’s albums.
Blink has never been a band plagued by inconsistency, yet “Neighborhoods” is drowning in it. The title “Neighborhoods” is supposed to be symbolic of each member bringing in something completely different and blending it all together on one album. It is indeed true that all of the Blink-182 members are coming together now after doing their own unique projects for years.
Wanting to go in a more serious direction is admirable. But the band needs to learn that melodrama is not a requirement for maturity. As simple as Blink-182’s past serious songs, like “Adam’s Song,” “Stay Together for the Kids” and “I Miss You” were, there was a genuineness to them that is mostly absent on “Neighborhoods.” The band sounds just plain uncomfortable making music together for the first time in years, and are trying hard to force the spark. The tragic death of Blink-182’s talented longtime producer Jerry Finn is also felt deeply, with no outside production influence felt anywhere.
Many longtime Blink-182 fans are going to be severely disappointed with “Neighborhoods.” It is doubtful that any track on here will ever fill people with the nostalgic bliss that their past hits do, but that is not what the band was aiming to do with this album. Blink-182 needs to remember what made them so great in the first place before trying something new. While a few tracks nail what they were going for and give insight into what the album could have been, “Neighborhoods” generally sounds directionless, inconsistent, and awkward. It is all too little, too late.