When Your Heart Stops Beating

Written by: PP on 08/11/2006 16:08:57

Tom DeLonge claimed the Angels & Airwaves album to be the best thing in music for a decade and surrounded his band with a massive publicity campaign months prior to release of their debut to desperately promote his album, which didn't have enough great material to satisfy the fans and flopped. Meanwhile, the other two thirds of Blink 182, namely Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, weren't making much of a fuzz about their new band +44 and its upcoming debut "When Your Heart Stops Beating". Even today, one week before the release of the debut, I haven't seen too many interviews or ridiculous overstatements about their album. Instead, the guys seem to let their music speak for themselves, and rightly so, for +44 succeeds gloriously in everything that Angels & Airwaves failed so miserably on.

So how do the post-Blink 182 guys sound like in their new band without Tom? Very eletronica pop punk. "Lycanthrope" has minor electronic keyboard portions on the background supporting the guitars and Mark's teenager-style vocals. The song kickstarts the album perfectly, matching pace with melody, and is followed by the best song on the album "Baby, Come On". Not that that's an objective choice at all, as the first half of the album is simply far too strong to not be puzzled over which song is the best. Is it the singalongable chorus "quit crying your eyes out baby come on!" on the aforementioned track, the electro-punk disco beat of the death-obsessed "When You're Heart Stops Beating", or perhaps the sudden chorus-explosions of the otherwise quiet ballad "Little Death" that makes any of these songs better than one another? Mark, Travis & co display wisdom on how to make even the slower songs sound interesting. It's the small changes in pace and pitch that seem insignificant but make all the difference in the world. Well that, and the easy accessibility of it all. You don't have to fight to get into any of the songs because the melodies are so catchy, the lyrics aren't trying to be deeper than they are, and the concept within each song is coherent. "Cliff Diving", for instance, is about a summer love which ends up not working in the end, and "No It Isn't" is a song directly about the Blink 182 fallout without any themes or meanings hidden behind the lyrics.

The first half of the album is punkier than the second half. It's filled with straightforward, fast-paced pop punk anthems like the title track, "Baby, Come On" and "155", while the second half is made up of quieter songs like "Weatherman" that are more comparable to songs like "Down" than "Feeling This" from B182's later work. "Make You Smile" has silky guest female vocals owned by Carol Heller and simultaneously is the most electronic track on the album, with beats drawing parallels to bands like Brandtson. Whereas there isn't anything specifically wrong with these slower tracks like "Chapter XIII" underlines by showing how small rhythm changes make a boring approach sound interesting all of a sudden, there's just more going on in the faster portions of the album. Of course having Travis as a drummer helps here as his drumming more often than not deviates from the pop punk standards and is fantastic most of the time.

So what to make of all of this? Like I mentioned before, the best of +44's sound lies in the upbeat fast paced disco-pop punk like "When Your Heart Stops Beating" more than in the slower tracks, though "Little Death" is at least as good as the prior despite being slow. This is no doubt a solid album, and likely to make the top10 album lists of many by the end of the year. And most certainly, it is a big blow for Tom as +44 has just torn apart his flopped "We Don't Need To Whisper" and shown where the talent was in Blink 182.


Download: When Your Heart Stops Beating, Baby Come On, Little Death
For the fans of: Blink 182
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.11.2006

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