Box Car Racer was formed in 2002 by Blink-182 members Tom Delonge and Travis Barker along with David Kennedy. This band shows a completely different side of a Blink at this time: a darker, serious side and features songs that Tom felt were not “Blink-friendly.” This change is evident in not only the lyrical content but also the music.
“I Feel So” begins with a slow piano tune followed by an acoustic guitar. Instantly, it becomes evident that this is a completely different band from Blink. This song is filled with brutal honesty, as Delonge opens the album with: “sometimes, I wish I was brave; I wish I was stronger.” Later, he asks for a new start (“let’s start over”). On “All Systems Go,” Delonge criticizes the government (“the government is lying; the youth, they won’t believe them”) and questions “when will this be over.”
“Watch the World” is a guitar-driven song describing the witness of change and birth of a better world. Lyrics like “I saw this man dispose of hunger” and “I saw this box get rid of heartache and cure cancer, too” convey the idea of this utopian world. Delonge explains “I sat there hoping, this is what we’d do.” “Cat Like Thief” features Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and switches back to the dark point of view: “I get up just to get knocked back down. I sit up just to get knocked all around.” Driven by the chorus explaining “don’t leave her,” this song is very different and makes the listener think.
A slowed acoustic track, “Letters to God” is incredibly honest, Delonge is open and truthful, which can be heard in his voice. He explains that if he could have another change he’d live better and not lie or sin. This song is different from anything Delonge has ever written. As the intensity picks up, the emotion is evident. However, the next song, “My First Punk Song” would have been better off left off this album, as it just doesn’t fit with the overall mood and tone of the album. Fortunately, “Sorrow” picks the album back up and continues on the original course. Backed by guitar and piano, the song puts the album back on track.
“There Is” is a nostalgic track about the idea that no one is every truly alone with thoughts in the world. On “Elevator,” Blink-182’s own Mark Hoppus provides guest vocals. The song is about tragedy (“I saw it all, I saw it all go down”) and being able to forgive and forget (“let’s forget this all, move on.”) Following this, the album’s closer is an instrumental track, which generally sums up the album: going from fast paced guitars to slowed chimes.
Overall, Box Car Racer is a completely different band than Blink-182 and should be listened to as such. Box Car Racer shows a more mature, serious, almost mysterious Tom Delonge, a different side of him. However, he proves to be able to create this type of album effectively. The songs make the listener think and are easily relatable, which is exactly what the goal was. The album is far from perfect, and has flaws, mainly “My First Punk Song,” but it does have many positives and in the end proves to be a solid album.