Sound — 6
My first impression of the album was one of disbelief. After nearly ten years, Blink 182 have finally grown up! The music was totally different this time. What I mean by this is that on albums such as Enema Of The State and Take Of Your Pants And Jacket, they had a kinda 'high school' pop-punk sound. This was cool in a way, as it established their audience and dealt with teenage issues. Their new sound changes everything. On a positive note, it is good to see them maturing and becoming unique. However, they still are a very pop-oriented band - I recently saw a performance on a talkshow where they lip-sync'd. The fact that they aren't confident playing live shows that they still don't have that 'x-factor' that other bands such as Sum 41 or Simple Plan do have. You never see them jumping up in the air, enjoying their music, actually jamming. You see them in their clips singing with their guitars hanging losely. I'm sorry, I just don't like it. It is good in a way to see them growing up, but their sound needs to be further developed, and they have a long way to go yet to be seen as more than a pop band. Although Tom will never be a Hendrix, Page or Santana, his style fits the form of music and generally gets the job done. Travis can cut it with the best of them on the drums, and Mark is so-so. However a lot of the music I didn't like at all. One thing that irritated me in particular was the 80's feel present in many tracks. Feeling This, I miss you and Always used this element effectively. However, in songs such as "Go" and "The Fallen Interlude", the effects sounded misplaced and awkward. The album is in many ways an improvement in regard to sound, but they still have a long way to go if they want a 5/5 score.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics certainly have become a lot more meaningful and important this time around. The issues which are addressed are personal, often dealing with love and romance issues. This is something which I have always liked about Blink. They never seem to be political; you never hear anything critical of wars, governments, religion, etc. Or anything which challenges dominant societal hegemonies. Those who have been involved in a deep meaningful relationship may be able to relate to the lyrics well. However if you are a young teen who was just dumped by your first girlfriend, my suggestion is to go and pick up Enema of the State or TOYP&J, as you won't find any songs about that here. The vocal skills of both Tom and Mark have their moments. Down in particular was a really emotive song, and the vocal talents of Tom enhanced the experience. The lyrics enhanced the average sound and pulled the album up from what could have been a rather lackluster effort to make a deep, meaningful record.
Overall Impression — 8
I will admit I am a die-hard sum 41 fan. I have tried not to let this influence my judgment of the album. But now comes the time when it is fitting to compare Blink to other bands. Their lyrics are great and individual in their own way. Sum 41 are great and individual as well, as they discuss and foreground relevant and complex societal issues, particuarly in their latest album. Their sound is also many leagues above that of Blink's, be it Dave's rockin' guitar solos, Deryck's vocals or the general feel of the music. However, blink are very unique and nothing portrays this more than their new album. I will never prefer blink, but if I am thinking about my relationship or something, it is great listening. If I am pissed off with America for re-electing bush or for sending soldiers to die in a pointless war, I am going to a concert, or I am going to have a session with the band, I will listen to/buy tickets for/play Sum 41 songs. However, blink remains great contemplative music, and a worthwhile alternative. The most impressive songs on the album are Down, Always, Here's Your Letter, and Feeling This. They show their true talent. Overall, the main pro is that the music is individual, unique, and contemplative. The main con would be that if you love great sounding music, something you can really move to, bang your head to, really feel, this ain't it. Sorry. Go buy Chuck. If I lost this album, I think I would make sure I had every Sum 41 and Simple Plan album. Then I would go buy it again.