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Blink-182 - Topic

Buddha Play

Consisting of demos, Blink-182's first album, Buddha, may be a little generic, but it's nevertheless a solid skatepunk record that illustrates the group's flair for speedy, catchy hooks and irreverent humor. There are a few weak cuts, but on the whole, it's a promising debut. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Neighborhoods Play

When blink-182 split in 2005 due to growing tensions in the band, it seemed like they were done for good. In 2008, though, a series of tragedies, including the death of longtime producer Jerry Finn and Barker's near fatal plane crash, brought the trio back together. With their friendships mended, the band announced in 2009 that they would end their hiatus, reuniting to tour and record. Though they made it back into the studio quickly, the recording process was plagued by delays, pushing the album back again and again. The wait was finally over by mid-2011, though, and blink-182 finally released their sixth studio album, Neighborhoods, led by the singles "After Midnight" and "Up All Night.", Rovi

Cheshire Cat Play

Looking back, it's possible to see the roots of blink-182's tuneful frat punk on Cheshire Cat, but the fact of the matter is, this isn't as good an album as the ones that came later. That doesn't mean it's bad, since it skates by on its impish pranks and brash musicality, but the group is rather scattershot here, hitting the target as often as they miss it. There's enough here to dig into if you're a fan, but you have to be a fan to appreciate it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Dude Ranch Play

On their third album, Dude Ranch, blink-182 follow in the same path as their first two, turning out 15 tracks of juvenile, adrenaline-fueled punk-pop. Some listeners will find their potty humor ("Dick Lips") somewhat irritating, but the group has written some surprisingly catchy hooks, which might win over skeptics. The songwriting is still a little uneven, but overall, Dude Ranch is an improvement over their first album, Cheshire Cat. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

blink-182 Play

There comes a time in every punk's life where he or she has to grow up, or at least acknowledge that maturity is just around the corner. blink-182 put it off for as long as they could, but ten years into their career and two albums after their big breakthrough, 1999's Enema of the State, they decided to make a stab at being grown-ups for their eponymous sixth studio album. As with many self-titled albums, the trio uses this as an attempt to redefine itself, and they have considerably expanded both their sonic template and lyrical outlook on blink-182. They're still rooted in punk-pop, but even songs that stretch no further than that sound are a little darker, a little restless, reflecting the overall mood of the record. In shorthand, this is the record where blink-182 delve into post-punk, opting for some appealingly sullen moodiness, off-kilter hooks, lots of sonic textures, and even a duet with the Cure's Robert Smith. Since the trio is an inherently catchy group, this is a far cry from neo-post-punk groups like Interpol or even the dynamically hooky Hot Hot Heat, but there is a greater variety of sounds on blink-182 than on any of the trio's other albums, and the songwriting is similarly adventurous, alternating punchy, impassioned punk-pop with weirder, atmospheric pieces like "Down" and "I'm Lost Without You." If nothing on the album has the immediate impact of "All the Small Things" -- though the opener, "Feeling This," comes close -- and if, on the whole, blink-182 isn't as bracing or visceral as Dude Ranch or Enema, so be it: there's more to explore on this album than any of their other records. It's an unexpected and welcome maturation from a band that just an album ago seemed permanently stuck in juvenilia. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Enema of the State Play

If the title Enema of the State didn't give it away, it should be clear from songs like "Dumpweed," "What's My Age Again?," and "Dysentery Gary" that moving to a major label isn't a sign of maturity for blink-182. "Dammit (Growing Up)," the first single from their third album, Dude Ranch, brought them a wider audience and the attention of major labels, which was just too tempting to resist. They signed with MCA, but the only sign that Enema of the State is a major-label effort is the somewhat cleaner production and the fact that they could afford porn superstar Janine -- all decked out as (surprise!) an enema nurse -- for the album cover. Of course, the lovely Janine is as much an indication as "Going Away to College," a catchy little number that pretty much repeats the narrative of "Dammit": blink-182 is not growing up, no way, no how, nowhere. And that's fine, because few of their peers are quite as blissfully stupid and effortlessly catchy as them. Sure, they might not show the emotional depth of Green Day, but they have good tunes and deliver them in a speedy, punchy fashion. Enema of the State isn't going to change anyone's life -- unless it's the first time a 13-year-old boy has seen Janine -- and it will likely irritate old codgers, but it's a fun record that's better than the average neo-punk release. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Take Off Your Pants and Jacket Play

Not too much has changed since we last left blink-182. You might hear the same snap, crackle, and pop that the trio has prided themselves on for almost ten years. There's even the continual cabbage-patch screech of Tom Delonge and support for rampant teen angst. But five albums later, these San Diego natives grab their rosy-cheek punkadelics and add a bit more of a flamboyant, passionate maturation on Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. When Enema of the State leaped onto the charts in 1999, the lyrical direction was 90 percent party-boy mentality, leaving little room for traces of a growth spurt. And while we're still feeling the continual back-drip of tracks from Enema, the fresh plethora of tunes from these rambunctious Toys-R-Us rockers have more purpose than ever. With a fight-for-your-right joviality that's often irresistible, songs like "Anthem Part 2" and "Stay Together for the Kids" house a indomitable school-kid voice where a surging vapor of knockout speed chords meet wrecking-ball percussion. The meanings are bucketed and spilled, with lines like "If we're f*cked up/You're to blame" ("Anthem Part 2"). And forget about escaping lyrics such as, "I'll never talk to you again/Unless your dad 'ill suck me off," which stems from the hilarious, almost brilliant 42-second clash called "Happy Holidays, You Bastard." "First Date" and "Roller Coaster" are only a couple of their tunes that act as therapy for post-pubescent dilemma, also present on previous efforts like Enema and Dude Ranch. Each song about the rotten girlfriend or unhip parent speaks loud and often to the 2000 MTV generation. Nevertheless, the dumped-in-the-amusement-park tone and lyrical progression are sharp, if not entertaining. The band's stint on the Vans Warped Tour, with veteran punksters such as Pennywise and Rancid, has become a supreme outlet for blink-182. Take Off Your Pants is one of their finest works to date, with almost every track sporting a commanding articulation and new-school punk sounds. They've definitely put a big-time notch in the win column. ~ Darren Ratner, Rovi

Icon Play

While not as inclusive as the band's Greatest Hits collection, blink-182's entry in the Icon series offers a crash course in pop-punk with its compact, 11-song track list. With classic tracks like "All the Small Things," "What's My Age Again?," and "Adam's Song," Icon takes listeners on a whirlwind tour of the band's back catalog while showing off an emotional range that was often masked by the band's youthful irreverence. Though there are other compilations that offer a wider selection, Icon feels almost like a "best of the best-of," and makes for a great entry point for pop-punk dabblers. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi

Greatest Hits Play

First rule of greatest-hits albums: start things off with a bang, not a song that takes about a minute to get off the ground, and about 80 seconds before the vocals kick in. "Carousel" may be a chronologically accurate way to begin blink-182's Greatest Hits, yet it gets things off to a slow start -- but then again, blink-182 hardly sped out of the gate themselves. It took them a long time to get up to speed -- it wasn't until their third album, 1997's Dude Ranch, that they developed a flair for sugary pop hooks, as evidenced by that album's "Dammit," not just their first big hit, but their first memorable song. It was enough to buy them a ticket to the big leagues and their next album, 1999's Enema of the State, turned into a blockbuster, thanks to the crossover Top Ten hit "All the Small Things," an incessantly catchy, irresistible slice of bubblegum-pop that sounded at ease sandwiched between *NSYNC and Britney Spears on Y2K radio. This, as Greatest Hits proves, was both blink-182's blessing and curse: they had the ability to turn out some great pop singles, but when they missed the mark, they sounded lightweight and disposable. This wasn't just true of their defiantly stupid party songs, of which there were many; even such brooding, angst-ridden teenage melodramas as "Adam's Song" seem a little lightweight and transient. Of course, the band was helped neither by its crystal-clear, super-slick production -- which was the antithesis of punk -- or by the thin, whiny edge of vocalists Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge -- which tended to make even serious themes seem like frivolous adolescent concerns. Over the long run, these two factors tend to undercut whatever snotty charms blink-182 may have had, particularly because their writing tended to be hit or miss, to the extent that even this Greatest Hits is uneven. It may have all their best songs -- "Dammit" and "All the Small Things" in particular, plus "Josie," "What's My Age Again?," "The Rock Show," and "Stay Together for the Kids" -- but at 17 songs, including the previously unreleased "Not Now" and a cover of the Only Ones' "Another Girl Another Planet" taken from the MTV reality series starring drummer Travis Barker and his Playmate wife, this runs a little long. It may have all their charting singles, but its generous length tends to highlight blink-182's weaknesses instead of their strengths. That said, the group did set the standard for pop-punk's commercialization at the turn of the millennium, and not only were they better than the sound-alikes that followed, they did have some good tunes, all of which are best heard on this intermittently entertaining collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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