Do not expect to see Blink-182 streaking through the Nineties-nostalgia party. Twelve years ago, Blink blew up with bubblegum thrash that injected a Porky's populism into punk's obsession with the ickiness of sex. But on their first album in eight years, Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus sound grown-up and serious: "Everyone raises kids in a world that changes life to a bitter game," they note over the emo-tinged metal of "Up All Night." It's like Stifler from American Pie went all Revolutionary Road on our ass.
The band was already heading in an artier direction on 2003's Blink-182, and drummer Travis Barker nearly died in a 2008 plane crash. So maybe it's remarkable that the old Blink bounce – double-time tempos, crisp tuneage, self-deprecating lyrics – is intact at all. Songs like "Hearts All Gone" are pitched between Black Flag and Six Flags ("I'm a little bit shy, a little bit strange and a little bit manic!" DeLonge journals). But just as often there's sophistication and introspection (check those pianos ton "Kaleidoscope"), and darkness lingers at the edge of suburbia: "Gunshots, the punks are rioting/The stage is slowly crumbling," Hoppus sings on "This Is Home." Some Clinton-era pants-dropping might've been a fun nostalgia move. But those days are gone; it's their early-2010s nightmare as much as anyone else's.
Listen to "Up All Night":