Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Little Death Makes Life More Meaningful

+44 is the band that Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 formed after the disbanding of Blink in 2005. Their name is taken from the UK international area code where Mark and Travis first discussed the project. After finding the rest of the members guitarists Craig Fairbough and Shane Gallagher the band began writing and recording and released "When Your Heart Stops Beating" in fall of 2006.

Of course, being a Blink 182 fan and thoroughly enjoying Angels & Airwaves, I was curious to what direction the other 2/3 rds of Blink were taking musically. What we have here is more pop then punk and more alternative sound with obvious Blink melodies with a touch of Cars style rock at times. Just a bit.

Honestly, the album grows on you, but at first it never really stuck with me the way Angels and Airwaves did. The music is more like newer Sum 41 with more mature lyrics and a reflective atmosphere.

The album starts off with the punky "Lycanthrope" which is like their Blink sound and is hooky with a catchy melody. The title track is punk infused rock with heavy keys influence, as is "Cliff Diving" which adds a sunny poppier beat.

"Baby Come On" slows things down and is very much like "Story Of A Lonely Guy" and "Stay Together For The Kids" in their Blink days. It's a sing a long that is reflective and vivid. "155" is the Cars like song mainly due to the keyboards. It's melodic and rocky, with a pop chorus. The acoustically enhanced version bonus track is essentially the same only with more acoustic.

"Little Death" has an Everlast sound with the rap. Mark's vocals are deep and electronic and monotone until the chorus where he belts it out. "Lillian" is an acoustic driven piece that is passionate and poetic. A nice ballad and one of the strongest songs here.

"No, It Isn't" is a response to the demise of Blink 182 and is a spitfire of those who feel burned. It's darker and bitter with lyrics like ~This isn't just goodbye, this is I can't stand you ~. It's aggressive and sharp with an early Blink punk style to it. Irony?

Victoria Asher makes a guest appearance on "Make You Smile" which reminds me of Straylight Run's "Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs". It has a dancy beat and poppy sound. Not a bad song, but a little out of place.

My favourite song is "Chapter 13" the album closer. It's uber catchy and anthemic alternative style guitars. The vocals are nice and the song is passionate and full of conviction.

Upon further listening of this album, I've come to appreciate the songs and realize it's more then the generic pop/post punk album I originally labelled it. It's not an album I dig out a lot and frankly I'd tend to pick up Angels & Airwaves more. But if A&A annoys you and your longing for a more Blink influenced post punk band +44 have put together a beautiful collection of songs and honestly, with a lot less pretentiousness.

Up next, I'll complete this Blink 182 retrospective with Angels & Airwaves second release, and following that I'll be heading back into some extreme metal reviews with write ups on Ahab and Catacombs to kick it off.


Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Enjoy that Ahab album, it's boss! The Catacombs album should be interesting too if you're listening to the one from a year ago or whatever...the definition of languishing doom...

As for Blink, I really did like them a lot and never apologized for it when some of my heavier-lovin' brethren challenged me on it. Like Dave Smalley of Dag Nasty/Down By Law/All told me when we brought Blink up, sometimes you can't help falling sucker for the pop hooks when they're done right.

5:53 PM  

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