Friday, May 27th, 2016

Blink-182 – Bored to Death

Gin: ‘a hosanna to world-weary masturbation.’


Jer Fairall: Though I jammed along to “What’s My Age Again” and “Man Overboard” back in the day, I never cared enough about the band to learn any names, so colour me grateful that the member they recently dropped turned out to be that annoying, high-voiced dude. Whatever else he may have brought to the band, his departure hasn’t hurt their taut sense of dynamics or their way with a bright, chiming guitar riff, but “Bored to Death” lacks their earlier bratty exuberance, instead suggesting something closer to a middling Jimmy Eat World track. 

Katie Gill: If this came out in 2000, it’d be played in Hot Topics nationwide. It’s nostalgic in all the worst ways, the worst offenders being the lyrics. And look, I never expected Blink-182 to mature. But I honestly expected 2016 Blink-182 to at least sound a BIT different than 1999 Blink-182 and less like a band that’s going through the motions. Nobody likes you when you’re forty three.

Taylor Alatorre: It takes a lot of talent to pen lyrics that are this transcendently meaningless. Call it “dream imagery” or “death anxiety” if you must, but that won’t make you feel any less self-conscious when you find yourself shouting along to some half-assed koan about tigers stuck in trees. The real coup here is in creating a song where it doesn’t matter that the words don’t matter; as with “I only wanna die alive” and other Max Martin-isms, the meaning is subordinate to the surrounding headrush. With its “Adam’s Song” guitar line, “Feeling This” drum fills, and an “over and over” refrain that plays like “First Date” fanfic, no expense is spared in recreating the ineffable sound and feel of a TRL-era Blink single. In the wake of Tom’s departure, laying out an appealing nostalgia buffet is no mean feat, and it’s all the world was really asking for. Turns out the vibe generation still likes to take off their pants and jacket when no one’s home.

Alfred Soto: The change from boys 2 men is less excruciating than composing music to accommodate twaddle like “bored to death and fading fast” and the other pensées with which they decorate the oh-ohs and rhythm changes. Yet boredom is a phenomenon over thirty too — and more dangerous, signaled by those rhythm changes. In short, they don’t sound bored to death, just bored by feeling the same things, over and over.

Lilly Gray: Blink-182 solidly expresses the earnestness of being young, upset, and about to vomit or jump a chain-link fence. This anthem — which easily could have been released in 2008, a detail that is probably off-putting to many — gets a huge pass from me because of that double whammy of recognition and yearning. All Blink songs are plucky loser songs, and I feel just as ready to indulge in satisfying, shouted sadness as a directionless adult as I did as a teen. I’ll see you all at Warped Tour this summer. 

A.J. Cohn: Would that the stupidly perfect chorus (so shout-along-able!) were hitched to less perfectly stupid verses.

Hannah Jocelyn: Apparently John Feldmann thought “Life is too short to last long” was a deep statement about getting older, but once it’s processed and multi-tracked to hell, the line lands with a thud. There are some glimpses of maturity, including one lifted from Frightened Rabbit, but that doltish line, along with the whole thing about “rescuing a tiger from a tree”, doesn’t exactly suggest that this band is growing up. Lyrics have never been Blink-182’s strong suit, though, and neither have vocal performances. As a result, it’s up to Travis Barker to carry the song. By and large, he succeeds. His drums busily move about the stereo field before finally taking center stage in the thrilling, string-filled climax. As far as last-minute crescendos go, it’s not exactly “Keep Yourself Warm,” but it still lends just enough gravitas to be effective.

Cassy Gress: Blink-182 to me will always be embodied by the “All The Small Things” video on TRL, from which 16-year-old me in cereal-logo baby tees and baggy jeans developed an embarrassing (particularly in retrospect) crush on Tawm deLawnge and his lip ring. It’s not a surprise to me that a older and more mature version of the band has joined in the 2016 90’s revival, and while this doesn’t sound much like the Blink I remember, it does sound almost exactly like my memory of the summer I graduated high school: sunsets and concrete and finality. A YouTube commenter (I know) mentioned that the chorus is the Tom part of this, though, and now that I read that, I’m not sure Blink-182 functions as well without him.

Gin Hart: The, um, I’m sorry… pop-punk “thing” is something I respect but don’t understand. I dig (or have dug) it, sure, I mean the shit’s so “talking bout my generation,” but I’m at most a visitor to these hallowed halls. Everything seems a hosanna to world-weary masturbation, and I embarrass myself when I try to shout along in the car on the highway with my friends who never stopped caring about all the small things.Some neat history: Blink-182 was formed in San Diego in 1992 (coincidentally the town and year of my birth). Tom “Rock Star turned UFO Investigator” DeLonge (our past) and Matt “painter, pisces, biker, surfer, lover, fighter, loner, rebel” Skiba (our present) were both 17. This is an ouroboros of the band’s (the tiger’s) interpersonal distress in the form of a subtweet in reference to, like, a letter in a lovers’ quarrel. It tries its best to remain blinky, to get sonically snuggly with diehard and burgeoning audiences, all the while eschewing narrative specificity for fear of being petty and/or emotionally uncouth. It’s so curled in on itself yet so empty in the middle! So fraught yet so boring! It’s backed up against the wall, masturbationlessly world-weary, mumbling “I’ve made a huge mistake.” If this sounds like a negative review, it’s because it would be if I weren’t so entranced by the simultaneity of core nothingness and liminal heartache. What can I say? I love see-through things.

Alex Ostroff: Overwrought pop-punk trying to sound like a world-weary adult is only charming until you’re actually old. ‘Bored to Death’ is warmed-over 2003-era Blink-182, so in the spirit of clichés and nostalgia for 1997, let me presumably be the fifty-leventh of us to end with: Well, I guess this is growing up.

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2 Responses to “Blink-182 – Bored to Death”

  1. defund pop-punk.

  2. Almost at #1 on the U.S. alternative charts, if only the damn Lumineers would disappear. Would be their third #1 hit, the last being “I Miss You” in 2004. Cementing a legacy