Album Review: Blink 182 – Self-Titled by Sam Brooks
There’s so much that can be said about Blink 182’s career. The scrappy trio of pop punk pioneers went from small clubs and basements to forgers of a whole new sub-culture. But there is an area of their career that doesn’t seem to spend much time in the spotlight. Their Self-Titled album.
Album Review: Blink 182 – Self-Titled
Recorded at a time when the cracks in the band’s career (and friendship) were beginning to show, Blink 182 saw the trio move away from immature jokes and singing about girlfriends and high school, and into bold new experimental territories. Throughout the album, they explore themes like the decay of romance, the struggle of growing up and dealing with unexpected hardships. The band risked alienating their entire fan base. Instead, they gained common ground with an ageing fan base, struggling with the same issues.
In terms of craftsmanship, the band takes their sound in an entirely new direction, experimenting with new instruments like turntables and a double bass, whilst also improving upon their own individual playing style. Mark Hoppus, whose bass riffs have always been the unsung catchy hook of the band, switches between a heavier emo influenced sound and jazz style riffs. Tom Delonge’s guitar playing takes a back seat, whilst the melodies and vocal style he’s famous for becomes the driving force of the entire album. But it’s really drummer Travis Barker who takes the biggest step up. He delivers not only the best work of his career but perhaps some of the best drum playing in the history of music. To listen to a full play through of this album is to listen to an artist at his peak.
“…It’s really drummer Travis Barker who takes the biggest step up. He delivers not only the best work of his career but perhaps some of the best drum playing in the history of music. To listen to a full play through of this album is to listen to an artist at his peak.”
The Fallen Interlude and the now iconic I Miss You is the furthest the band strays from their patented pop-punk sound. You could be forgiven for mistaking Barker’s freestyle on The Fallen Interlude for the introduction to a hip-hop song. I Miss You features acoustic instruments, a double bass, and Barker’s now iconic combination of jazz brushes and a hip-hop influenced drumming style; all of which come together to create one of the band’s most iconic tracks. The lyrics deal with the ideal image of a loved one and struggling with love as an adult. The band even moves into spoken word with the interlude to Stockholm Syndrome, which features a female voice reading love letters that Hoppus’ grandfather wrote to his grandmother during World War 2.
That’s not to say the album is entirely focused on experimentation. Radio-friendly anthems like Feeling This and Always have that familiar Blink 182 sound, whilst also showcasing their more mature tone. On the other end of the spectrum tracks like Violence and Down shows that the band can dabble in other genres, whilst retaining the heart and catchy hooks they’re famous for.
It transpired that the driving force behind the band’s foray into experimentation came down to Delonge’s itchy artistic feet. The album was an attempt at pouring cement into the band’s crumbling relationship, and whilst it ultimately failed (the band broke up two years after the album’s release) they were still able to craft a near perfect album. Whilst the album isn’t as influential as Enema of the State, nor as fun and well loved as Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, it could be argued that Blink 182’s self-titled album inspired 2007’s emo phase, with bands such as Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the Disco all taking queues from the album’s heart-on-sleeve approach.
The Breakdown | Album Review: Blink 182 – Self-Titled
Blink 182 choose to leave their tried and tested pop-punk sound behind in favour of experimentation and end up creating their secret masterpiece.