Music To Eat Lunch To – +44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating

Label: Interscope/Polydor
Release: November 2006
Tracks: 12
Rating: 5

Well, it’s official. The band called “blink 182” are no more. The three members have ultimately fragmented into two new bands. Tom DeLonge joined Boxcar Racer and Angels and Airways. Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker went to +44. It’s just like the situation of a couple of old friends that get a divorce — I don’t know whom to visit first. As it happens, Tom’s new stuff is sounding an awful lot like the final blink 182 album, that being slow and fundamentally melodic. It’s not a sound I look forward to hearing in comparison to blink 182, but it did lead me to believe that +44 would have retained some of the old blink sound, seeing as it does house two thirds of the original band. Not so! While When Your Heart Stops Beating does tend to lean more towards the punkish vibe than anything DeLonge is putting out these days, it’s lacking that vital energy that I loved blink 182 for.

This album is apparently the culmination of more than a year and a half of work by Mark and Travis, who eventually joined forces with Shane Gallagher and Craig Fairbaugh (both guitarists, with Mark on vocals and bass and Travis on drums) not long after the break up of blink 182 and set to work writing some new songs. The reasons for the break-up are pretty hazy, and likely we’ll never really know the catalyst for the end of an incredibly successful career with blink 182, I came into this album with a few expectations. Knowing already that Tom was taking the mellow route with his own music, and having heard Travis badmouth blink 182 time and time again for being childish and, I believe in his own words, “crappy,” I thought that +44 would take the truly punk aspects from blink 182 and mould them into a new, more adult version of their past musical exploits. You know, less high-school centric lyrics, more of a wailing guitar and more politics.

I’ve been let down in these expectations. It’s not a very punk sound at all, and high school does get a mention in the lyrics. It’s a little bit like listening to Dude Ranch minus the energetic frontmen. And what’s the point in that? I wish all the best to these guys, but to be honest, I think they were better together with Tom. +44 isn’t offering up anything new in music, nor is it particularly interesting to listen to. I’m not really into giving my attention to a sad thirty-something man who sounds like he might just give up and drop his bass in another minute or two for sheer lack of virility.

It’s a drab album, to say the least, and even though all these musicians (former blink 182 members and otherwise) are obviously talented in their own ways, I don’t see what they’ve got to say that I need to hear about. None of the songs stuck out as a masterpiece, and none were awful, either. Altogether the album is just plain forgettable, and even though I was a big fan of Mark and Travis in their former lives, I don’t think I can stick out this new incarnation as +44, unless they make some amazing musical discoveries before the next album comes out.

I hate to say it, but this has marked the sad and final ending of blink 182 for me. Maybe, I just need to give it more time. After all, the band does need a little while to grow and figure out its own sound. I really want to like the band, but they’ve yet to give me a reason to tune in.

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