Adulthood doesn't wear well on Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker.
Back when they wore their immaturity as a badge, they put porn stars
and cows on their Blink-182 album covers and sang goofy punk
songs about aliens and attention deficit disorders. Of course, even
then they sang angry songs of breakup and loneliness, but you could
skip over them to the song about an obsession with Princess Leia.
No such luck with +44, the new project for two-thirds of Blink-182.
The main differences with the new band are a new, depressing seriousness
and some electronic programming. Though Barker keeps bragging about
the new band being completely different from Blink-182, this is akin
to Ben Gibbard claiming The Postal Service is a huge
departure from Death Cab For Cutie. Replacing guitars with
computers isn't a new band. It's a computer project.
Fans who stuck with Blink-182 to the end despite clashing egos and
mediocre balladry will likely appreciate +44. Hoppus still writes
familiar, catchy pop-punk hooks and driving bass lines. But he's not
goofing off anymore. The album opens "I wake up at the end of
a long, dark lonely year/ It's bringing out the worst in me."
It doesn't let up much from there, with a sad song cycle about depressed,
drunk girls, death and breakups.
The heaviest electronica comes in the middle of the album, most notably
in the minute-long "Interlude," which had some additional
programming help from superproducer Dan "The Automator"
Carol Heller of Get The Girl was reportedly the original
vocalist, and her voice remains on one track, the pretty mid-tempo
duet "Make You Smile." She was otherwise replaced by two
guitarists with that old pop-punk sound. Maybe if they had stuck with
her, we would be hearing a radically different project. As it stands,
the songs remain the same.
2. Baby Come On
3. When Your Heart Stops Beating
4. Little Death
7. Cliff Diving
10. No, It Isn't
11. Make You Smile
12. Chapter 13
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