When you're pigeonholed into a certain category and time period of musical relevance, it takes a lot of balls to come out with an album after an eight year hiatus. Specifically, it takes three pairs of balls in the form of Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge, and Travis Barker. Neighborhoods, the sixth album (shit, only seven more until they're neck and neck with Mariah Carey) from the infamous trio is a startlingly well-balanced blend of their signature brand of pop punk combined with tones and lyrics that indicate the wisdom that comes with maturity--or at least the facade of wisdom that comes with as mature as a Blink-182 member can get.
Opening with "Ghost on the Dance Floor," Blink-182 gives us a preview of their new-fangled Killers-esque sound before DeLonge brings it back to the status quo with the lyrics, "I felt you here tonight, but dreams can't all be real." It's the sort of melancholic sentiment that mirrors songs of their past, telling stories of rejection and inadequacy. The only difference on "Ghost on the Dance Floor" is that DeLonge and Hoppus don't mention body parts or an intense sexual appetite. Like I said, maturity.
Continuing with "Natives," a song that pays homage to the sound of their debut, Cheshire Cat, Hoppus drones, "We'll have the time of our lives, although we're dying inside." It is perhaps a subconscious acknowledgement of how the band operates. The first single from Neighborhoods, "Up All Night" (it's just a coincidence that Will Arnett and Christina Applegate star in a sitcom of the same name), is actually one of the less enjoyable tracks on the album, sounding a bit too much like the unlikable fare that appeared on their self-titled album (released in 2003)--a collaborative effort that was largely responsible for sending the group on this epic "break" in the first place.
Among one of the most notable songs is "Wishing Well," which bears momentary resemblances to "Story of a Lonely Guy" from 2001's lasciviously titled Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (you know, like "jack it," as in masturbate, as in stroke your penis repeatedly). Anyway, there is also the shameless second single from the album, "After Midnight." It is yet another song that proves Blink-182 will be living the same life as long as they can breathe/have at least one operational limb and orifice to drink with. On "After Midnight," Hoppus sings unabashedly in the face of his lack of youth, "We'll stagger home after midnight, we'll fall apart on the weekend, these nights go on and on and on."
Just as their past albums, Neighborhoods addresses the theme of how ephemeral love can be (most obviously on "Love is Dangerous"), driving home the point that, though the band may have been out of the game for almost a decade, it has not affected their lyrical allegiance to a topic they are adept at commenting on. And so, in a world that is ever-changing and increasingly more unpredictable, there is some comfort in knowing that the boys/occasional men of Blink-182 remain constant and steadfast in their style, with only minor modifications to be detected in the latest phase of their storied career.
For more on my unbridled devotion to the band that made my junior high years bearable, read this.