Recently, while discussing the recording of Blink-182’s 2011 album Neighbourhoods, guitarist Tom Delonge said that the band ‘barely spoke’. This fractured relationship within the band could be heard in the album itself; while it was a decent record, it did feel that each member had brought their solo interests to the table and the band had attempted to ram them together incoherently to form a record that ended up sounding like three EP’s on shuffle. However, such disjointedness is not prevalent on the band’s new EP Dogs Eating Dogs, which instead sees Blink return to charismatic pop-punk, creating an enormously satisfying selection of their most perfect content to date.
Throughout their long career Blink-182 have changed their sound greatly (they used to make poo jokes and now they don’t as much), but they have always maintained an ability to use simple instrumentation and juxtaposed vocal styles to create incredibly catchy songs. On this EP, the band show that with age, their ability to create an unforgettable hook has not waned. One listen to the EP’s highlight ‘Boxing Day’ and its chorus, sounding like a cross between Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star’ and Blink’s very own ‘Feeling This’, will be stuck firmly in your brain. Similarly, ‘Pretty Little Girl’, the EP’s closer, is alluring in its instrumentation, leaving the listener craving more; something never felt through the entirety of Neighbourhoods.
While the EP demonstrates Blink at their best, there is a constant threat that the band is going to devolve back into Tom Delonge’s side-project Angels and Airwaves. Angels and Airwaves are the sound of a mutilated Blink-182 trying to force itself to cry while watching the last scene of Titanic, and luckily this superfluous bombast never quite surfaces here, as it often did on Neighbourhoods. Opener ‘When I Was Young’ initially scared with its distorted drums, organs and annoyingly expressive singing from Tom Delonge, but, through its powerful, crashing chorus, the song turns into something much less lame. Similarly, the slow paced-synths and guitars at the beginning of ‘Disaster’ threaten to become a repeat of Angels and Airwaves’ ‘The Adventure’, but once again, through a strong chorus, the song manages to land safely, despite the turbulence of too many delayed guitars.
Something relatively revolutionary for Blink that this EP presents is lyrical depth and skill. The band move beyond the standard ‘girl x is a dick/girl x think I’m a dick’ clichés and move into some interesting new territory. The Mark Hoppus-led track ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’, would not be out of place on Bloc Party’s Intimacy, with its dark, intriguing themes of raw physicality and consumption.
So are Blink-182 too old to be doing this now? While this is a common question from doubters, I can firmly state that the answer is a no. What this EP shows is that the band are firmly back on track after Neighborhoods, and are developing upon the things that made them so popular in the first place and ultimately creating something better (certainly better than anything the three members produced during Blink’s hiatus). It will be interesting to see where this maturation and development will lead the band in their next album and beyond.