November 30, 2006

Heart Pounding Rock

Print More

As half of Blink-182’s songwriting tandem, the masterminds of some of the best power-punk-pop-rock of the late nineties and early 2000s, Mark Hoppus knows how to craft catchy melodies and anthemic refrains. So when Tom DeLonge abruptly left the band in 2005, Mark was not about to let his whinier voiced counterpart stain Blink’s legacy with the lackluster project Angels & Airwaves and not protect their impressive body of punk pop work. He and remaining bandmate Travis Barker continued to write and eventually collected two guitarists to complete their new outfit (+44).
In When Your Heart Stops Beating, Hoppus’ new sound adds a bit of electronic instrumentation to his usual rock sensibility. “155” exhibits the new sound most prominently, but you can also hear it in the title track and “Make You Smile,” which features the vocal stylings of initial band member Carol Heller. But just as Blink-182’s descended more with every release from potty rock to more introspective songwriting, Hoppus continues on that path in (+44). This album is full of minor chords and stinging lyrics; read them along with each song and you can’t help but notice the references to DeLonge’s departure from Blink-182 and their consequential falling out. (Hoppus and Barker haven’t spoken to DeLonge in two years.) But somehow Hoppus makes this album a pop rock tour de force while on the other hand, DeLonge’s new setup Angels & Airwaves, bought themselves a one-way ticket to Emo-town.
This album begs to be listened to at full volume. The only hitch is the songs tend to lack a strong guitar presence. His band mates have not established themselves and probably do not want to step in on Hoppus’ spotlight just yet.
“No It Isn’t” is the most infamous and obvious dig at DeLonge, even if Hoppus maintains that it’s not. In fact, they titled it as such so if asked, “Is it about Tom?” they can simply answer “No, it isn’t.” You’ll take to this quiet melody and soul-baring honesty, enveloped by scathing sarcasm. This is a personal and soul-baring Mark Hoppus he only hinted at with songs like “Go,” “Stay Together for the Kids,” and “Adam’s Song” during his time in Blink-182. He’s a legitimate grown-up now at 34, and he finally writes like one, exploring new artistic means musically and his own feelings with lyrics. (+44) rocks as much as Blink-182 ever did, but the music has matured as much as its writer.