Sound — 7
Tom DeLonge is best known as the frontman for Blink-182, which he founded with the other members in 1992 amidst the California skateboarding/surfing skate punk scene of the early '90s. Tom DeLonge created the band Box Car Racer in 2001 to explore themes he felt were too dark for Blink-182, though the band broke up after a single album. Later on, Tom DeLonge would found Angels & Airwaves in 2005 after Blink-182 went on a hiatus in 2004. Since Blink-182 was reformed in 2009, Tom DeLonge had remained a member of both Blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves, but Blink-182 has not released an album in 4 years. In late 2014 and early 2015 there were rumors in music press that there was friction between the other members of Blink-182 and Tom DeLonge, mainly due to Tom DeLonge's refusal to commit to a recording or performing schedule, which ultimately led to Tom DeLonge leaving Blink-182. Tom Delonge has since recorded his debut solo album, "To the Stars...," which he has stated is made up primarily of demos that were originally intended for the new Blink-182 album. There are 8 tracks on the album, "To the Stars...," with an approximate runtime of 26 minutes. "New World" was the lead single from the album and was released in March 2015.
The album opens with the lead single, "New World," which has also had a music video released, which portrays Tom destroying a studio (mainly using a guitar like a hammer), and wandering around with the same guitar taped together with electrical tape. The song seems to be about finding a direction post-Blink-182. The second track, "An Endless Summer" has a sound to it that I more closely think of as an Angels & Airwaves sound, with a more refined and less "punk rock" sound to it. The song is one of those nostalgic longest summer, summer love, never regret songs - which seem to be really popular across all genres for a while now. "Suburban Kings" has a similar energy to some of the earlier work in Blink-182, though the instrumentation is a little different, including keyboards and more studio processing. The song seems to be another nostalgic song, but this one about the formation of Blink-182. "The Invisible Parade" is an acoustic track, with just an acoustic guitar and Tom's voice. The lyrics are more abstract than Tom's lyrics have been otherwise on the album, which tend to be more narrative. "Circle-Jerk-Pit" is more like a traditional punk song - not so much the skate punk or pop punk that Tom DeLonge has been known for, but more the fast and frantic stripped down punk of the British punk movement. In traditional punk fashion, "Circle-Jerk-Pit" is under 2 minutes long. "Landscapes" opens up with an audio sample of a guy, I think maybe Carl Sagan, talking about common sense. From there the song builds up to a very dense tapestry of sound. "Animals" has a creepy vibe going on with it, with an oddball chord progression and a vocal melody kind of similar to Radiohead's "Creep." The album closes out with a truly weird song called "Golden Showers in the Golden State," which sounds a lot like old school Blink-182 except the lyrics are about weird excrement and piss fetish stuff. A weird note to end the album on, and honestly it ends the album on a sour note for me, personally.
Lyrics — 6
Tom DeLonge is known for a certain type of vocal delivery, but on "To the Stars..." he has shown that he is a little more versatile than I though he was these days. I was probably most impressed, oddly enough, with his very authentic punk snarl on "Circle-Jerk-Pit." The lyrics were less impressive. The more nostalgic themed songs were actually probably his strongest, lyrically, but a lot of the rest it seemed like the lyrics were an afterthought or even just filler. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, I want to show you some of the weirder lyrics, so I'm gonna go with some lyrics from "Golden Showers in the Golden State": "You can take a dump on my chest if it's okay/ Just don't take a piss in someone's mouth when you're away/ I jack myself to sleep, every night I'll have a dozen/ I'll let you watch the show when I'm poopin' on your cousin/ It's a fun hard day up in California/ It's the grand old way up in California/ Can you come play, here in California/ This is California, We f--k in California." Most of the lyrics aren't that weird and twisted, but there was no way I wasn't going to display those lyrics in my review.
Overall Impression — 7
I didn't hate the album, and there were some truly strong points, but for the most part it seemed a little bit half-hearted and mediocre to me. I'm sure there will be plenty of people to disagree with me, but Tom DeLonge hasn't been the same for a long time and this album just helps to display that fact. My favorite tracks from the album are "Animals" and "Circle-Jerk-Pit." I had a pretty strong aversion to "Golden Showers in the Golden State," both because I don't really enjoy listening to a song with that specific subject matter and also because Tom repeats "California" so often in the lyrics that the word quits having any meaning.