Sound — 7
Blink-182 is recently coming off of their reunion album, "Neighborhoods", an album that contrasted considerably from what they are known for, Keep It Simple Stupid pop punk. In some cases, this angered old time fans while usually doing nothing to attract new ones. All of the band members agreed that flawed recording procedures (e-mail exchange) jeopardized that album's success and quickly reconvened in November to record this five song EP in time for Christmas. While this album is sound production wise, lacking any of the complications of the prior album, it seems a bit rushed on the writing side. However, one could interpret this as Blink returning to a simpler writing process, closer to the one that gave them success in the past. In any event, this EP keeps the sound of the mature Blink-182 while going back to the basics in certain aspects, providing a solid EP that all fans can enjoy over Winter Break. But of course, I caution that it probably won't last much longer...
The first song of the EP, "When I Was Young", starts with an odd part where the drums are very low and in the background, playing under a synth section of half notes. The harmonics of a guitar enter and, a few phrases later, the drums swell, bringing the album into the normal fast, pop punk of Blink-182. The chorus slows down, of course, for a three-chord riff and the bridge is a repeat of the intro section. Overall, this song is solid. The interesting intro part (which actually sounds better during the bridge) and chorus have won me over so far.
"Dogs Eating Dogs" - there are no frills on this number, save the bridge that almost sounds the same as that of the previous song, but less "out of place" (a more appropriate term escapes me). Everything here is pure pop punk and the repeated chorus line of "dogs, dogs eating dogs, dogs eating" is catchier and much less annoying than one would believe.
"Disaster" starts experimentally with a bass and almost theremin sounding synth part. The line of "Disaster, Disaster" blends nicely with the opening groove as well as the synth. The guitar that eventually joins the opening groove is copied nicely into the chorus with the "Disaster, Disaster" line that both sound perfect under the standard Travis Barker beat that is present here. As in the first song, the intro groove is repeated as the bridge section, which then leads into a final chorus. While this song is experimental, its format forces it to be grouped with the other songs, making it hardly experimental in the grand scheme of things. Still, it's a decent effort.
"Boxing Day" is the lone acoustic song on the EP. This is the one that was released beforehand free. I find it amusing for Blink-182 (U.S.A! U.S.A!) to have released a song of this title. Nevertheless, this song is my favorite song of the album. This is because the guitar work here is the most intricate and interesting to follow on the album. The harmonies and the Christmas spirit make this one very fun as well and it will well serve my iPod over Winter Break. As a side note, the verses sound suspiciously like the song from the beginning of "Shrek".
While it isn't apparent at first, "Pretty Little Girl" ends up being the most experimental song of the EP. The song starts with eighth notes that we've all seen before, but here, DeLonge puts delay and another effect on the sound to make it interesting as well as the quiet drum effect that is by far, in my mind, the most used effect on the album. When the verses turn into pop punk, there isn't a large amount of speed, a change compared to the rest of the songs. A special note for this song is that the bridge doesn't copy the intro, but instead is a rapped section over a drum roll, which I think is the wrong idea if Blink wanted to change the pace. In total, almost everything about this closer makes it stand out from the rest of the songs on the EP.
Lyrics — 7
Hoppus and DeLonge provide solid lyrics for this EP that fit the music, don't stretch limits, are catchy, and can be funny at some points. Here is an example from "Pretty Little Girl", :19 years as you grow into my beating heart, oh it seems you're just (?) it as my hand moves up your arm, and you never really know where it goes until it starts, I got my eye on you, what you gonna do?
From that excerpt, you might already be able to tell where their vocal delivery is leading. On this EP, the vocalists aim at sounding very young, in their 20's which might be contrary to previous changes in Blink-182's vocal approach. Besides the fact that I abhor modern, young, alternative voices like theirs, their vocal delivery fit the music in a pleasant way and their melodies were easy to sing along to.
Overall Impression — 8
While it seems that Blink-182 is trying to experiment here, many of the musical aspects of the album are repeated throughout. Examples include the quiet drum effect, the synth flavored intros, and how the bridges are repeats of the intros. The best song on the EP is the ironic "Boxing Day" and for the worst song, I don't really have one.
Again, this album will provide solid listening over Winter Break and it is a fairly good follow up to "Neighborhoods". But, the primary thing I have gained from this EP, is an interest in how the band will evolve on their next full length record; towards the mature Blink-182 or the old Blink-182 of the late '90s and early '00s.