LP Review; Blink 182: “Blink 182”

“Feeling This” starts with a unique instrumental interlude that provides juxtaposing rhythms between the percussion and string sections from the first downbeat of the album. After a few moments of this clashing rhythmic motive, the ensemble comes together to form the first groove of the work before the first set of vocals enter. These vocals utilize the nasally, stretched vocals that are characteristic for the band. As the band shifts towards the chorus of the selection, the vocals shift to the smoother vocal type, which helps to provide a simple, memorable melodic line for the audience. In the middle of the track, the band presents a quick drop of instrumentation to feature a percussion motive before the vocals re-enter with this limited orchestration. Within this middle section, the band shifts from one vocal type to another to provide the audience with a strung-out verse that catches the audience off guard; however, it makes them want to learn the words, so they could join in. After this vocal monologue, the band switches back to the original groove of the work to drive to the end. This was a strong first track for the album, for it amplifies the band’s characteristic sound, and this song is one of the most memorable tracks on the album.

“Obvious” starts with an instrumental feature that utilizes a strong string motivic idea that quickly transitions into the first verse that is led by the mixture of both vocal types that the band uses. As the song moves throughout the first verse and the chorus, it is heard that this beginning motive would drive the content of the instrumental material used throughout the work. The contour of the vocal line seems to rise and fall between the middle range of the voice, which is strong for the artist because it produces a pleasing sound for the audience. Near the middle of the work, the song suddenly switches to a small guitar feature that quickly morphs into a full instrumental feature. This feature gradually heightens the entire work by transitioning back to the chorus of the selection to drive to the end.

“I Miss You” starts with a small percussion motive that plays with dimension through the perception of a circular motion as a low bass tone enters in soon after. After that instrumental feature settles, the lower lead vocals enter to provide a gentle melodic line that glides overtop the building instrumental material. The chorus of the song is simple, but it is overly pleasing to the ear. During this portion of the song, the band adds small instrumental ornamentation to keep the audience intrigued. The second verse is led by vocals with a more nasal affect to them, which adds color to the album. The timbre of this voice is quite distinctive to the band, which helps them to stick out in the scene. As the song progresses, it is apparent that the band stays firm within the groove that was set at the beginning; however, the band toys with instrumentation throughout by adding small motives here and there to help elevate this selection to the next level, which makes this a favorite from the overall work.

“Violence” starts with a faint hit in the percussion section that is soon joined in by the sound of someone snapping and a shaker. After that groove is well-established for the audience, the band includes small interjections of the other instrumentalists of the ensemble until the full band enters full force. Once the full ensemble enters, the band places a moment of silence before the ornate vocals enter in at a slower tempo, which adds musical variety to the selection. During the verses, the band pulls back to the initial instrumentation of the work, but during the chorus the band drives home all the instrumental material they have. This is strong, for it gives the audience a taste of both sides of their musical spectrum in one song.

“Stockholm Syndrome Interlude” starts with a vocal recording of a women telling a short story to the audience. As the vocal recording smooths its way through the work, the band provides a small piano melodic line underneath accompanied by small electronic swells that add texture ever-so-often. This being an interlude, the band does a solid job of setting up the next piece through this vocal story as well as having this interlude fade directly into the next track.

“Stockholm Syndrome” starts with the end of the song’s interlude, and from there the band quickly jumps to a heightened instrumental motive that is emphasizes heavy hits throughout the instrumental section. After this interlude has had time to settle, the band shifts into the first verse of the track, which utilizes both vocal types singing different lyrical ideas at alternating times. Next, the band shifts into a small codetta that links both sets of vocal material together: verse to the chorus and vice versa. This selection is quickly wrapped up with the restatement of the original melodic and vocal material presented.

“Down” starts with a sequential guitar motive that remains constant as a percussive idea is introduced over top. After this combination of ideas simmers, the vocals slide in with an overly pleasing timbre. From the first few words of this selection, the vocals are overly inviting, and they make the audience want to sing along. It’s hard to pinpoint because the vocals of this song aren’t different than the previous tracks; however, the way that the band establishes and backs up this specific vocal track gives the audience something new and innovative to listen to. The work itself it repetitive, but this works for the band, for each time reinstated material is presented, they heighten it to keep their audience engaged. As the piece reaches its end, the instrumental material fades to a piano motive, which remains steady until the very end.

“The Fallen Interlude” starts with a female vocal type accompanied by riffs that resonated with a piano-type timbre. That idea soon becomes established, and then the band adds in different percussive elements to add dimension and texture.  The two together create a motive which establishes the groove of the work. The majority of this track is solely instrumental material, for this track acts as transition material for the album.

“Go” starts with a symmetric instrumental interlude that is kept steady by the rapid pulse being provided by both the strings and the percussion section. The vocals enter in quickly after the stated instrumental material, and they ride through with a dynamic fluctuation in vocal range and in vocal type; meaning, as the song progresses the band switches characteristically, but they do so during uneven moments, which provides a new sound to the audience. Near the very end of the piece, the instrumentation completely drops out to leave the voice in isolate before the band returns full force to push to the end of the track. Since this is a quicker selection for the artist, it was very smart for the band to provide such a structured musical foundation in order to keep the work pushing forward at an even rate.

“Asthenia” starts with an audio recording of various voices that is soon joined by a low semi-tone that branches off into a gentle progression underneath the distant automatic, vocal message. After that interlude fades, the instrumental ensemble enters in with a simple yet refreshing groove that leads directly into the first vocal verse of the track. Throughout the work, the band includes small instrumental blurbs to transition from chorus to verse or from verse to chorus, which is nice, for it adds more rhythmic foundation for the track. The melodic material presented, vocal and instrumental, is quite repetitive, which works well for this selection because the material is overly memorable, so it’ll stick with audience members quicker in this fashion. Towards the end of the song, the band includes another instrumental feature that is geared around the initial groove that was set, but the end of the feature is driven by a snare motive that shifts smoothly to the chorus and ultimately to the end of the work.

 “Always” starts with a semi-tone that slowly builds as a percussion feature commences with solely rim based action until the full ensemble joins in, and the groove is officially set for the work. The first vocals that are introduced utilized the higher-pitched vocal type, which fits nicely for the selection, for the chorus utilizes a mixture of both vocal affects that the band has to offer. Throughout the work, the band toys with the notion of adding and subtracting instrumental lines in order to allow the vocals to shine as well as give their audience a variety of texture and musical dimension. Towards the end of the work, the artist includes a softer section where the voice and the percussion section has a quick duet followed by a grand pause. This is strong for the track, for it gives the audience the opportunity to focus on the vocals while the memorable groove remains constant; also, the band effortlessly changes back to the heightened groove to end the work. Thus, this resonates stronger with the audience after having such a dramatic drop in instrumentation. This is a favorite from this album because it is overly pleasing to the ear, and it is a track that sounds cool, which drives people to want to listen to it often.

“Easy Target” starts with an aggressive percussion motive that is driven by a series of hits that fall on the off-beats of the track, which provides an ornate sound to the work and to the album as a whole. The groove that is set for this piece pulls inspiration from that specific motivic material. That motive is soon joined by the entire ensemble, which transitions into the first verse of the selection. Like the other tracks on the album, the band switches back and forth between vocal types from the verses to the chorus; however, this is stronger for this track, for the juxtaposition is so strong paired with the lyrics that it produces an unclockable sound that is new to the listeners. Near the end of the work, the band returns to the initial groove with the same percussive motive in a late instrumental feature for the work. This interlude remains strong until it begins to wind down and fade into nothing.

“All of This” features Robert Smith and starts with a smooth groove presented by the instrumental section through the utilization of heavy hits in the percussion section and faint string motives. The featured artist leads the first verse, which starts quickly after the track begins. As the band shifts to the chorus, the higher-ranged vocal type is used as the featured artist provides opposing vocal materials here and there. During the verses, the instrumental section lightens the texture to allow the audience to focus on the lyrics and vocals. The make of this selection is quite simple; however, this works well for the artist because this song brings a more solemn mood to the heightened album that they’ve provided their audience; thus, this track gives their listeners a chance to breathe musically. Although this work isn’t as grand as the others, that doesn’t make this an unsuccessful work. The lyrics provided are overly memorable, and audience members will soon catch on and want to sing along to them.

 “Here’s Your Letter” starts with the repetition of a single semi-tone that speeds up to fall back to its original tempo once the remainder of the instrumental section enters to introduce the vocals of the track. The vocals of this song are simple; however, they work for the track, for the band provides quick interludes of rapid instrumental material that adds a high level of contrast to the work. The instrumental section, throughout the selection, enforces a steady groove that isn’t over the top, but it works for this song because of the high use of contrast throughout the piece. Overall, this piece is quite minimal, but it fits well in the make of this album.

“I’m Lost Without You” starts with the repetition of several semi-tones mixed with a soft piano motive. Once this ornate sound sits with the audience, the vocalist enters with a solemn vocal line that remains rather stagnant and in the “sweet” range of their vocals. Before the band reaches their fully orchestrated chorus, the artist includes a soft moment of almost silence to transition into the “said” chorus. As the band moves towards the second verse, it is heard that the instrumental section begins to have a more prominent role, which creates a small groove to forward the work. In the middle of the selection, the band includes a bigger instrumental interlude that features a major guitar motive that remains until the melodic material transitions back to the motive from the beginning. The band transitions back to the chorus as they did at the beginning, which provides a sense of familiarity to the audience. This produces a sense of musical security and will resonate well with audience members, for this is one of the longer works of the album. The last minute or so of the track provides mainly instrumental material to the audience with small interjections made by the vocalist. This gives the listeners a solid groove to vibe with until the very end of the album. This was a smart closing track for the band because it wasn’t one of the most energetic pieces, nor was it the most solemn. Therefore, this gave their audience members a track that made them feel as if the album was coming to a close, especially with the elaborate percussive motive that drives us to the very end.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 5 out of 5 stars, I am giving this album such a score for several reasons. The first reason is that this album embodies every characteristic of a strong release in any genre; to further, this album has a variety of selections that are vastly different, but they all connect in some way. Additionally, the band is providing an album that is overly memorable moving from track to track. Looking back on this release, there are clear favorites, and there are songs that will fade “in the background” because of these strong works; however, each track on this album could be a standout selection. Lastly, this album paved the way for so many artists across several different genres; thus, this was without a doubt a 5 out of 5 release.

*”Blink 182” was released on November 18, 2003 through Geffen Records.

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