Revisiting Blink-182’s self-titled album on its 10th anniversary

by Josiah Hughes

November 18, 2013






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Before you go any further, you need to do something for me. Go deep into the recesses of your brain to the taste centre where you fundamentally know the difference between what’s cool and not. That’s a valid and important thing, and the reason that you know better than to listen to Down With Webster. But you need to go in there, find the part of you that tells you it’s not okay to listen to adult men pretending they’re still in high school for the sake of catchy mall punk tunes, and turn it off.

Okay, now we can talk about how, despite being the fakest fake punk band out there, Blink-182 are one of the most consistent, talented, and maybe even important American rock bands of the last two decades.

No one can write infectious four-chord pop-punk songs with as much universal appeal as these three WASPs, no matter how innocuous the anti-authoritarian “parents suck” message may come across.

After three top-to-bottom perfect albums (Dude Ranch, Enema of the State, and, yes I’m saying it, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket), the members of Blink-182 were getting bored, and moving further away from the band’s original fertile formula (dick jokes + fast drums + octave chords = profit). While Mark Hoppus would’ve happily continued to recreate their good-times pop anthems, Tom DeLonge was more interested in self-serious wankery (his tendencies caused him to hit prog rock bottom in the mostly terrible Angels and Airwaves project), and Travis Barker was tired of reining in his absurdly frenetic drum skills to recreate the simpleton one-two punk beats of original drummer Scott Raynor.

These three diverse opinions came together and tumultuously spat out their self-titled album before imploding into a lengthy hiatus. Though it’s an imperfect, somewhat disjointed album, it’s also the last true sign of greatness from Blink-182 as they’ve yet to prove their comeback worthwhile.

Today (November 18) marks exactly ten years since the release of Blink-182. If there’s ever been a time to revisit the record, that time is now.

“Feeling This”

Where previous albums had opened with blistering fast pop-punk hits (from “Pathetic” to “Dumpweed” to “Anthem Part Two”), Blink-182 prove they’re doing something different here right from the get-go. The mid-tempo riffs, Travis’ busy drumming and Mark and Tom’s call and response vocals make for a very weird pop song, and one that has as much in common with rap-rock as it does pop-punk. Fortunately, the infectious sing-along chorus is enough to help you ignore the goofy cowbell. In fact, “Feeling This” has aged very well. Put simply, it rules.


The intro of “Obvious” only furthers the initial fear that this was Blink-182’s crack at nu-metal as they try their best to be “heavy.” Fortunately, the song quickly turns into a pop song that’s as incredible as it is incredibly wussy. Tom’s nasally croon is at its best here, while the arrangement is just straight-up insane — aside from a multitude of acoustic guitars, Travis’ out of control rim shots and the enormous church bells, is that a vocal sample of a dude saying “yeah” over and over again at the start? Despite the title, nothing about this song is obvious. Thanks to its enormous sing-along chorus, however, it is a total earworm. So far so good, Blink-182.

“I Miss You”

At least in my own mind, this has go to be one of the most debated Blink-182 songs. On the one hand, the intentionally “dark” lyrics have got to be some of the worst in the band’s career, not to mention that a refrain like “I miss you” is uninspired, to say the least. I also want to hate on the weird arrangement, a mess of acoustic guitars, terrible bass tone and corny drum brushes. The band Charlie Brown Jr. made me afraid of acoustic Blink-182. At the end of the day, however, “I Miss You” is impossible to hate. The melody is incredible, and the back-and-forth vocals sound great if you ignore the lyrics. It might feel like you’re slow-dancing at a Tim Burton-themed goth prom, but just quit being such a snob and let the song wash over you. That’s three for three on this album so far.


“Violence” is where the record starts to get a little messy. Granted, I could probably listen to nothing but Blink-182’s huge octave chords for the rest of my life, and have a rich and fulfilling life because of it, but they’re simply not enough here. Instead, this is the band’s version of U2’s “Numb,” an out-of-place diversion that relies too much on goofy production gimmicks, some of Travis’ most tasteless drumming and some bizarre rap-talking from Mark and Tom at once. By the time Tom gets to the giant pop-punk chorus, he can’t save it. Especially not with lyrics like “Like violence you kill me, forever and after.” What the hell kind of simile is that?

“Stockholm Syndrome Interlude” / “Stockholm Syndrome”

The intro for “Stockholm Syndrome” is so incredibly embarrassing and corny that it could’ve derailed the album entirely. Tim Hecker-esque field recordings and a thin MIDI keyboard provide a backdrop for actress Joanne Whalley to read World War II letters written by Mark Hoppus’ grandpa (and dick jokes certainly don’t run in the family). It’s a hilariously earnest, totally bullshit section that belongs on a wartime teen drama on The CW (maybe I should pitch that), but it’s made up for by “Stockholm Syndrome,” one of the band’s most dynamic, creative and forward-thinking tracks. Here, they toy with rhythm, offering up a meandering composition that still retains the melodic punk sound that only Blink-182 could make.


So far, Blink-182’s had a pretty strong record, but “Down” is the first sign that things are going, well, downhill. It’s not that bad, but it’s more of a third-rate Sunny Day Real Estate song than a Blink song, complete with the embarrassment chill-inducing pre-chorus whisper “This can’t be the end.” The chorus is fine, and the backmasked piano is certainly some welcome studio trickery, but it quickly devolves into a synth that sounds way too much like a didjeridoo. Put simply, “Down” is hardly up there in the Blink canon.

“The Fallen Interlude”

Uh oh, someone decided Travis Barker should have his own song, and it sounds an awful lot like some goofy music guys having a field day with the “cholo” presets in a Long and McQuade MIDI keyboard cage. Goofy piano samples, disgusting clean guitar, and some gross “down down down” vocals, plus a masturbatory drum solo. It’s so shocking and embarrassing that it’s almost good, like Blink-182’s The Room.


It’d be tempting to turn off Blink-182 after “The Fallen Interlude,” but then you’d miss the album’s best song. “GO” is pure Hoppus perfection, a two-minute fist-pumper that sounds exactly how adult Blink-182 should sound. The melody is incredible, the guitars are slightly dirty and there are still plenty of Blink signifiers, including the requisite elementary guitar solo. At less than two minutes long, “GO” is a simple masterpiece, and proof that if they put all the bullshit aside they’ve probably got plenty of simple masterpieces left in them.


Like the “Stockholm Syndrome” intro, “Asthenia” has got plenty of the faux-cinematic bullshit at the start, including some hushed radio transmissions and eerie synths. No one wants to hear Blink-182 take their crack at the Kranky catalogue. When it does come in, the song’s a poppy post-punk jam complete with hand claps and an incredibly fey Tom DeLonge. Then it kicks into its enormous chorus, complete with repetitive singalong, and yeah, there’s really nothing wrong with this song. I’m willing to let DeLonge make a huge production of everything if it eventually evolves into a huge singalong like this. There’s even a section of harmonizing octave chords and another goofy one-note-at-a-time guitar solo that’s pure Dude Ranch.


Everyone knows “Always” is a fantastic post-punk pop song, so there’s little to add. Tom Delonge sings like an idiot in a damn charming way, the bass chords are as warm and inviting as they can possibly be, and the shuffling, shimmering chorus is a timeless winner. As gross as it is to say, these are the sorts of songs that have people “feeling feels.”

“Easy Target”

I’m not sure about “Easy Target,” you guys. The “badass” guitars at the start, along with the driving chorus, sound like some soft punk dads trying to pay tribute to Bad Religion, which is exactly what it is. There are some nice call-and-response vocals at times, the production isn’t awful and the climax is sort of satisfying, but this is one of the album’s most forgettable songs. It’s only worth listening to because of the closing guitar riff, because it evolves into…

“All Of This”

…this incredible Robert Smith collaboration. Huge edited drums, more church bells and acoustic guitars make this a companion piece to “I Miss You,” except with Robert fucking Smith adding some gloomy post-punk vocals. Yes, his excellently somber voice is way out of place here, especially when paired with Tom singing “uuuuuuuse meeeee” straight through his nose hole, and Cure purists are likely turning in the graves they sleep in, but this is another example of Blink-182’s experimentation resulting in something memorable.

“Here’s Your Letter”

Peppering the grand experiments is another relatively straightforward Mark Hoppus banger. The weirdest “Here’s Your Letter” gets is the starting and stopping rhythm of the bass at the start. Other than that, this is another poppy gem that’d have also fit nicely on Enema of the State. Despite his ridiculously tall hair and frustrating misunderstanding of “Weird Twitter,” Mark Hoppus writes incredible pop-punk songs. Mark Hoppus, be my best friend.

“I’m Lost Without You”

Then Tom Delonge, and his Tom Delonge-iest, offers up a pre-Owl City Owl City impression on the remarkably embarrassing “I’m Lost Without You.” How is the same guy who sang “Degenerate” singing a horribly earnest love song that sounds like a junior high diary entry? Gross, Tom. Gross.

Bonus track: “Not Now”

Though not exactly a straight-ahead punk song, “Not Now” sounds like Discharge compared to “I’m Lost Without You.” The album’s bonus track, which later served as the band’s Greatest Hits single, is incredibly uplifting (complete with lyrics like “please hold my hand Lord now” and “God has a masterplan” — a far cry from “shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cock-sucker, / Mother-fucker, tits, fart, turd, and twat”). The song’s ascending chords, dynamic arrangement and huge drums make up for the corniness. Play this song at my funeral.

Tags: Music, News, Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge, Travis Barker






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