Friday, August 5th, 2011

Blink 182 – Up All Night

Pictured in their younger, firmer days.


Michaela Drapes: I didn’t realize I’d missed Blink-182 quite this much. And I’m not sure I was expecting that this would be a master class on how to do pop-punk right, but it is. They certainly haven’t been slouches during their “hiatus”; they’ve listened to what the kids coming up behind did with the sound, and appropriately amped up their game. The shimmering guitars that turn on a dime into a tight, bone-crunching hook skim along the top of Barker’s flashy crashes and fills while Hoppus’ bass holds it all up, buoyant and effortless. And of course, DeLonge hasn’t lost any of the charm of his snot-nosed delivery. They’re all just a little older and wiser now, but aren’t we all?

Jer Fairall: There’s plenty about them that’s indefensible, but in their heyday perhaps not enough attention was paid to how sharp their melodies could be, or how deftly their brand of brattiness evoked adolescent bravado and melancholy in fairly balanced measures. “Up All Night” isn’t nearly at the level of their best, though, with its mopey sentiment far too pronounced for anyone to be having any fun in spite of it, leaving the song lacking anything like the surprisingly nimble pathos of “What’s My Age Again.” If they’re gonna go the gloomy route, though, at least give us something like the towering sonic assault of “Stay Together For The Kids”; by contrast, this is perfectly tight and admirably straight-faced, but it never really feels like anything more than serviceable.  Funny, I didn’t think I wanted a new Blink-182 song, but now that it’s here, I’m kinda bummed that it’s not better.

Ian Mathers: Atypically abstract intro; riffage; Tom DeLonge vocals (ugh), but also Mark Hoppus vocals (yay, sort of); semi-typically, faintly elegiac/weirdly affecting chorus… up until that weird little headfake of an outro, this is almost exactly what I’d expect/hope for from a reformed Blink-182. We all still agree that “Adam’s Song” and “Always” are their best songs, right?

Jonathan Bogart: Would I really be happy with anything other than “All the Small Things, Part II”? Probably not. But still, ew, gross, they’re all grown up and stuff.

Katherine St Asaph: Is the guitar supposed to sound like it’s having paroxysms? Has age siphoned enough heat from Blink-182 in their hiatus that they can’t eke words from their voices without warming them up first in a reverb blanket? The demons of adulthood might keep them up all night, but they sound more like drafty, half-dissipated ghosts. 

Al Shipley: As someone who thought Blink-182 were on the cusp of something actually kind of great with the percussion-crazy power emo they were creating before their first breakup, I’m strangely indifferent to this, despite it more or less picking up where they left off.

Brad Shoup: Blink hasn’t been a gleefully snotty concern for some time. Really, they may never have been; with each dourly-themed release, all the fake-streaking and boy-band baiting seem more and more like a ruse. The pains of growing up have been a consistent theme for the boys since at least “Dammit,” and “Up All Night” extends the thread. Mark and Tom trade fools’ wisdom before the anthemic refrain all but asks for a divorce. I’ve seen the half-time “heavy” riffage in the intro/outro compared to DeLonge and Barker’s work in Box Car Racer, but I also hear the hard-won and super-boring maturity of late-period Foo Fighters.

Michelle Myers: There is good stuff in here. The heavy guitar section is likable, and it was a good choice to end the song on that note. Mark and Tom’s call-and-response routine on the verses sounds as effortless as ever. But too much of this sounds like an Angels and Airwaves album cut, and that is not a good thing. And the processing on DeLonge’s vocals in the pre-chorus is truly awful. His muppety yelp should really be kept away from the autotuner.

Alfred Soto: Equipped with keyboard effects and a mix as opulent and cavernous as the lover’s grotto in Robert Altman’s The Player, these goons snatch “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” from Green Day’s reluctant fingers and the Slaughter song with which it shares a title and antecedent and rewrite it into a real anthem. Even when they’re elongating their vowels more ridiculously than Avril Lavigne or singing higher than Midge Ure, they’re pushing their vocals to match the tumult of the guitars. Sex as ecstasy, ecstasy as a power chord, ecstasy for its own sake.

Jonathan Bradley: In 2000, in the wake of the band’s Enema of the State success, Blink-182 released a live album called The Mark, Tom and Travis Show. It came with two forms of bonus content: A song about the erosion of trust that an addiction inflicted on a friendship, and 29 secret tracks consisting of Mark Hoppus’s and Tom DeLonge’s on-stage patter. (They were mostly concerned with the relationship between various fluids and orifices.) This was evidence of emotional discordance, not range. The band had to reinvent itself for its 2003 self-titled album, because the alternative was to continue into their 30s releasing albums that rested on a heavy component of fart joke‐oriented stand-up comedy. It’s part of the reason Blink-182 was so compelling; the sonic experimentation was driven by a deep sense of dissatisfaction over the dissonance between the band’s artistic credibility when compared to its commercial success and songwriting nous. In these post-Angels and Airwaves, post-+64 times, however, the awkward stabs at adventurous dynamics and arrangements are less endearing, particularly considering they’re also less adventurous. As punk bands with bigger budgets than ideas are so wont to do, they confuse heaviness for rawness, and other than an intriguing reference to “raising kids” that suggests they may finally be identifying with parents rather than teenagers, there’s none of the emotional impetus that made Blink-182 so compelling. As appreciative as I am of the chance to once again hear DeLonge’s nasally whine, there’s no purpose driving this reunion other than an attempt to recapture past glories and wash away the failures of the past eight years.

Zach Lyon: This is very much in character. Listen to these lyrics and remember that Mark Hoppus is almost forty years old.

4 Responses to “Blink 182 – Up All Night”

  1. Wow. The Jukebox is far more favourable towards Blink (if not specifically this song) than I would have thought. Didn’t need to come off as so defensive of their back catalogue as I did.

  2. I suspect, Jer, that a lot of us who were of an appropriate age to be a part of their fan base the first time around understood their appeal more intuitively than critics did at the time.

  3. That, and I didn’t bother reviewing it because I would have given it [1] or [2].

  4. I do like some Blink stuff, but I generally think they’d be improved if 1. Tom DeLonge never opened his goddamned mouth (do I hate the voice or what the voice is saying? Do I have to choose?) 2. “All the Small Things,” easily their worst big single, had never happened.