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When Your Heart Stops Beating
Interscope Records

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" Nakamura.

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.

-Steve Graham

Track Listing
1. Lycanthrope
2. Baby Come On
3. When Your Heart Stops Beating
4. Little Death
5. 155
6. Lillian
7. Cliff Diving
8. Interlude
9. Weatherman
10. No, It Isn't
11. Make You Smile
12. Chapter 13

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