So here it is, Neighborhoods, the inevitable reunion album, delivered eight years after blink-182’s last album, six years after Tom DeLonge indulged his U2 worship via Angels & Airwaves, five years after Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker whiled away their time with +44, and two years after the trio re-formed for a tour, igniting the long fuse that led to this sixth blink-182 album. Produced by the three blinkers themselves, Neighborhoods certainly is a different beast than any of the cheerfully snotty early blink-182 albums, as the band picks up the gloomy thread left hanging on its eponymous 2003 album, the one that was connected ever so slightly to “Stay Together for the Kids,” the hit from 2001’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket that signaled some deeper emotions behind the goofy façade. Very little of that slapstick is retained on Neighborhoods; it’s been replaced by atmospheric echoes stripped from Angels & Airwaves, a pretension from DeLonge that’s given form and a pulse by Barker and Hoppus. Although there’s considerably more momentum -- and hooks! -- on Neighborhoods than either A&A album, this still gets plenty ponderous, taking so many scenic detours that the three-minute songs often seem twice as long. Blink-182 are hardly the first band to equate maturity with prog rock, going so far to cop a good chunk of their themes and artistic aesthetic for Neighborhoods from Rush’s “Subdivisions,” yet it’s far better to hear blink-182 grapple with adolescent angst via the perspective of middle age than vainly attempting to re-create their youth. Perhaps blink could stand to sharpen their words but it’s better that they concentrated on their music, creating a fairly ridiculous yet mildly compelling prog-punk spin on the suburbs here. Guess the hiatus did them some good.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine