Rarely has a nondescript album title spoken volumes the way Blink-182 does: For a giddily joke-driven band whose past titles include Enema Of The State and Take Off Your Pants And Jacket, going the eponymous route isn't exactly in character. The shift in tone doesn't stop there, either, as Blink-182 sheds its dopey class-clown demeanor and dresses up its once-elemental pop-punk arrangements with occasional strings, interesting beats, and, in the case of "All Of This," welcome guest vocalist Robert Smith. The departure doesn't reinvent the band altogether–most of these 14 songs are instantly identifiable as the work of Blink-182–but the unexpected onset of maturity strikes suddenly and noticeably throughout the disc. At its most straightforwardly conventional ("Feeling This," "Go," "Asthenia," "Always"), Blink-182's sixth studio album still dispenses cotton-candy hooks with the best of them. Still, the group constantly changes up its approach, balancing syrupy minor-key ballads ("I Miss You," "I'm Lost Without You") with a moody, beat-driven near-instrumental ("The Fallen Interlude") and a dramatic spoken-word piece to open "Stockholm Syndrome." The disc does meander in spots, and its most achingly sincere love songs become cloying, but it's easy to both enjoy and appreciate Blink-182's effort and evolution, especially when hooky pleasures continue to function as its primary stock in trade.
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