It really does feel like yesterday that I was just unwrapping the CD of this Blink-182 classic, known to many as their [Untitled} fifth effort, and grinning ear to ear about the sound that was about to surround me for the next two-plus years of a standard album cycle. Little did I know, this would be the last studio album Blink-182 would record for eight (!) years, until they returned with 2011’s Neighborhoods. This studio effort was a flawless execution of slick pop-punk hooks, experimental rock, hip-hop beats, and a top-notch collaborative song with The Cure’s Robert Smith. While some longtime Blink fans were disappointed with the final result of this record (that succeeded the bulletproof pop-punk classic, Take Off Your Pants & Jacket), almost all of these fans now point to this album as a seismic shift in the band’s songwriting and offered glimpses as to where they would take their sound for the foreseeable future. This fifth LP was produced by Jerry Finn, and it would also end up being their longest album to date, clocking in at a little over the 49-minute mark. Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker should be looking back fondly on this momentous album today that would find Blink-182 breaking down the silos of what a pop-punk band should sound like, and blow the doors off the hinges in the process.
From the now-iconic opening drum beat on “Feeling This,” to “The Fallen Interlude” in the middle of the tracklisting, all the way to the closing frenetic beat found on “I’m Lost Without You,” Travis Barker’s musical blueprint is firmly cemented on this album. On the opener and lead single Mark croons gracefully with the sunny chorus of, “Fate fell short this time / Your smile fades in the summer / Place your hand in mine / I’ll leave when I wanna,” and it makes for a memorable opening statement on arguably the band’s darkest LP in their discography. “Obvious” begins that march towards the darkest of thoughts with a more brooding tone over Tom’s distinct vocal nasal delivery, while the all-time classic of “I Miss You” follows it and features some brushed notes on the drum kit while Mark bellows over the first verse of, “Hello, there / The angel from my nightmare / The shadow in the background of the morgue / The unsuspecting victim / Of darkness in the valley / We can live like Jack and Sally if we want / Where you can always find me / And we’ll have Halloween on Christmas / And in the night, we’ll wish this never ends / We’ll wish this never ends.” The band was growing, both artistically and musically, at an alarming rate, and had come a long way from the band that threw dick jokes into more songs than not. Tom’s iconic “Where are you?” delivery is now a trademark part of their reunion concerts to connect with their fans.
Other standouts like “Violence” and “Stockholm Syndrome” showcased the growth that Blink-182 were having at just the right moment in their career trajectory. The pop-punk adrenaline shots of “Go” and “Easy Target” were enough to appease the crowd that discovered the band during the Enema of the State record, while the Angels & Airwaves-esque “Asthenia” hits its intended target, and highlighted where Tom would take his solo project(s). If nothing else, it certainly got their rabid fanbase talking about the band’s limitless creativity. The beautiful ballad of “Always” paired up with “All of This” featuring Robert Smith highlighted a band willing to take more calculated risks in their discography, and not giving a fuck about what the pop-punk purists would have to say about it. Going against (creatively) what most of the Drive-Thru era bands were doing at the time was arguably the most punk rock thing that Blink-182 could have ever done, and for a band that got famous with the lyric of “Well, I guess this is growing up” lived up to the mantra in an enormous way on this LP.