When Blink-182 released their untitled record in 2004, many fans complained of the dark turn the band chose. They stated this wasn’t the classic band they fell in love with and never saw the change coming, but there are hints of their darker sound on this record. Some people call this album the sequel to Enema of the State and in some respects they’re right. Just as with their previous album, all the songs are catchy, loud, fast and fun to sing along to, but changes in musical tone and subject matter shows a band in transition.
The first hint of change is right in the opening track “Anthem Part 2.” Where as the first song dealt with partying, this one explores the issues of teens in direct opposition to adults who run their lives. There’s even some political charge in the lyrics as Delonge notes how “kids can’t vote, adults elect them.” The song even goes as far as blaming adults for their kids being “fucked up.” Though it still has that classic Blink sound in terms of music you can already see the banding shying away from their partying image. “Online Songs” is a follow up to their single “Josie” and it’s about the end of that relationship. What’s notable about this track is the opening bass riff, which shows off Hoppus’ skills. From there the music races along as he sings about trying to get back with Josie and failing. It’s another one of their songs that’s so catchy you can’t help but sing along to it.
Since the band was pressured from the record company to make another hit album, there are still plenty of upbeat, fun, catchy songs exploring adolescence. “First Date” is pretty straightforward and has its share of funny moments. The chorus is simple, yet infectious and thanks to the brightness of the music, it sounds like the perfect track to kick off summer. Another fun summertime hit is “Rock Show.” This track has everything fans love about the band: fast music, loud guitars, catchy lyrics, and bounds of energy. It’s all about having a good time and this song is the best at capturing that mood.
“Happy Holidays, you Bastard” is one of their classic joke songs that finds Mark complaining about the holidays. The rushing tempo and obscene humor makes it a stand out track, especially since it’s less than a minute long. Songs like “Reckless Abandon” and “Roller Coaster” are good no doubt, but since they sound similar to what the band did on their previous album, they have a hard time standing out from the other tracks. It doesn’t make them bad; they’re still fun and catchy as hell. “Everytime I Look for You” and “Give Me One Good Reason” continue with the theme of adolescent as one touches on a shaky relationship as Mark and Tom effortlessly share vocal duties, while the latter explores teenage rebellion and how they’re only trying to find themselves. They may not be Blink’s finest songs, but they’re catchy and relatable, like most of their material.
Things get bleak for “Story of a Lonely Guy.” The music is slower here with an opening that makes it sound like the guitar is being played underwater. The lyrics paint a picture of a guy whose life is full of melancholy. You can’t help but feel bad for him as he can’t even approach a girl he likes in the grocery store. Though it’s not as strong as the other tracks “Shut Up” also has dark connotations despite all the swearing. It’s about a girl whose sick of her family and decides to run away. In the process of leaving she learns she actually misses them, which she didn’t expect. It’s not their finest songwriting moment, but it does show the guys leaning towards a new direction. But there is one song in particular that shows their serious side.
“Stay Together for the Kids” is one their of their darkest songs. The tone of it is angry and violent, especially when it comes to the chorus where Delonge shouts “So here’s your holiday/hope you enjoy it this time/you gave it all away.” The music seems to represent the shift in emotions someone experiences when faced with their parent’s divorcing. The verse have somber riffs, while the chorus has aggressive, explosive music that gives you chills. It’s a really powerful and emotional song, especially when you consider how most of the band have gone through their own parents divorce. It’s a track that still rings true today and not only shows the band progressing as songwriters, but as musicians too.
Overall, I would give this album 8.5/10. It has awesome songs that are fun and fast, the elements of a classic Blink-182 song, but there are also subtle changes that were hinting at where the band would go musically after this. While some songs are good, but get overshadowed by the other tracks, others are excellent and shows the guys’ knack for bouncing between heartfelt songs and fun, catchy hooks. Though it’s been called a sequel to their previous album, this record shows the guys improving as musicians and as songwriters. This was only a small hint to what was to come next.