Blink-182 burst onto the music scene in 1999 with "What's My Age Again?," a pop-punk smash that reveled in the band's enthusiastic resistance to growing up. That juvenile mentality and a crass jokiness became the trademarks of several hit albums, like the multi-platinum Enema of the State, before the band attempted a more experimental sound with their self-titled 2003 album — their last before breaking up temporarily. Eight years later, Blink-182 is back with Neighborhoods, released Tuesday, and the trio is clearly trying to establish itself as grown up, and capable of making serious music. Does it work?
Maturity fits the group well: Neighborhoods opens with the "emotionally charged" single "Ghost on the Dance Floor," says Mark Lepage at the Montreal Gazette. And the "shivery, electrofied" "Up All Night" is an arena anthem "not about partying, but demons." Lyrics can be haunting — for instance, "I kinda like the little rush you get / when you're standing close to death." It's clear that these guys are attempting to "grow up the music," and — older and wiser — they succeed.
"Blink-182 moves next to door to maturity"
But they may have grown up too much: We can be relieved that the group's "running masturbation motif is in the rear-view mirror," says Chris Willman at The Wrap. But on Neighborhoods, the threesome prove less adept at writing "compelling, sober songs about adult relationships than they did about their extended pubescence." Blink's old pop-punk sound is still alive and well on the album, but the effort lacks "at least one unforgettable tune" and is plagued by "vaguely angst-ridden sentiments." While the band should be applauded for growing up, "maybe it wouldn't hurt for them to grow down just a little."
"Review: Blink-182 grows up a little too much on Neighborhoods"
Actually, it's the perfect combination of young and old: These musicians could easily have re-embraced the "poop gags and Red Bull-soaked riffs" that made them man-child heroes, or returned to the "deadly serious" sound that permeated the group's 2003 album, says Tom Goodwyn at NME. Instead, Blink has accomplished both at once. Songs like "Natives" have the same "pop-punk thwack" as early, more juvenile hits, while "aircraft hanger-filling power chords" on "Up All Night" show that the Blink guys really have grown to become "serious musicians."
"Album review: Blink-182 Neighborhoods"