Sound — 8
Overall, not everyone is going to easily embrace this album. There isn't going to be an "Enema Of The State Part 2" or anything. Times change, musical tastes change, and more importantly bands change. This new chapter for Mark, Tom, and Travis may not be "traditional" Blink but let's be honest that was way back in the 90's. I would've been more surprised if it did sound just like old Blink. Instead I stayed completely optimistic with this album because I did not want to let myself down expecting something that simply won't happen. I will admit that it was a bit getting used to but after a few listens it starts to grow on you. It's a new, more mature band with a new sound that combines the strengths of each member and comes together in a musical homecoming. The most important aspect to note is that the hiatus is over! The new "Neighborhoods" definitely starts on a strong note with the song "Ghost On The Dance Floor". This might actually be my favorite track of the new Blink but not for reasons I would've looked for in previous Blink albums. Beginning the track with a transition of synth and Barker beats, DeLonge comes into the fold taking his former position as frontman and vocalist. The song overall has a mix of AVA influence as well as pop and rock all mixed into one. The next song, "Natives" begins with a blast from the past "Young London" style guitar riff from AVA and continues to keep an up tempo rock song vibe throughout. The quick single-esque rock songs are still retained in "Neighborhoods" with a few 3-3:30 min songs in the mix. "Up All Night", "After Midnight", and "Heart's All Gone" meet this style and definitely stand out with the latter having some of Travis' best drum arrangements in the album and in the entire Blink catalogue. He drives the song so well with an array of technical switch-ups and hi hat rides that keep the track fresh and powerful from start to finish. Not to say this is new news. Travis has always been a beast behind the kit. Not to mention he can walk away plane crashes unscathed. What a boss. One of the major problems I do have with the album is the length. The track list may be a bit too stuffed with songs and leaves a few as just filler as opposed to tracks that really bring something important to the table. I think overall the album would've been more powerful if the best of the best were kept and made an album roughly 35-40 min. However, a major positive I could give would be the fact that the recordings themselves were stellar. Some songs were polished and mixed great and others seemed to have been from a garage recording session, which I applaud them for keeping diverse and getting down to the nitty gritty. Some bands tend to lose their style when they rely on perfect studio recording versus a good old fashion sketchy session in a garage. That's like paying homage to your roots. Anyways, I applaud Blink for bringing each other's strengths together and writing a new chapter in their band's colorful history.
Lyrics — 8
Despite the major change of the band's sound and compositions, the lyrics might be the most unfamiliar. The happy upbeat song/lyrics that veteran fans could relate to have almost vanished entirely leaving a more darker list of songs that may shadow how the band felt leading up to the reformation. Death, depression, addiction seem to be prominent themes throughout the entire album which clearly effects the songs' overall feel. Despite, the gloomy shift from the bands previous canon, it's probably healthier that the band changed their sound and didn't try to force themselves back into a band that they used to be, the blink previously known as 182 in a sense. Not to give the impression that Blink has fallen into a Cure/goth-heavy gloomfest, there are a few standout positive songs that lighten up the album. Mainly "Wishing Well" and "Kaleidoscope" bring forth a nice "la da da da" type of sing-a-long that really evens out the rest of the album. "Neighborhoods" also finishes positive with "Even If She Falls" that is simply a joyful listen. The pain the band has gone through is slightly still present in the song, but the overall mood seems to give off a sense of coping to tragedy and that tomorrow will be better than today, which nicely contradicts the beginning of the album.
Overall Impression — 8
However, you view this album the fact of the matter is that the boys from Cali are back with a vengeance. They clearly put a large amount of time and work into their return and paid attention to all the small things to make it relevant in a new musical era. You would be wasting your time assuming this album is classic Blink because plain and simple it is not. The fact that Mark, Tom, and Travis made it work after differing side projects during their indefinite hiatus provides a promising future for the band and I'm looking for whatever they can dish out next.