First Repressions: blink 182

With the vinyl resurgence comes a desire to have the records that came out in very limited quantities or not at all on wax. And if you ever wanted a record that came out when vinyl was not as popular, you know there are two ways: pay large sums for those titles or wait for a repress. Luckily for us, there have been a ton of great represses–from The Wall to Sleep’s Holy Mountain, from Like a Virgin to Bright Eyes’ complete discography. In this series, “First Repressions,” we’re writing about reprinted albums that have caught our ear a second time. I want to start with blink 182′s self-titled album form 2003.

I wouldn’t claim to be a blink 182 fan by any means, but their self-titled is a moment when the members’ talents came together seamlessly to create something that is more monumental than their previous releases, an album that cemented their place among American pop punk royalty. Starting with the now iconic phased drums of “Feeling This,” blink 182 collages bits of angst, sexuality, and teen passion in a way that was uber-fresh and incredibly fun. Show me any kid from the suburbs who claims not to have rocked out to this track (and record) in 2003, and I’ll show you a liar.

The record represents the pinnacle of the band’s chemistry. After playing together so long, Mark, Tom, and Travis had finally begun to understand the moves and tropes each brought to the table and how to work with them. They played off each other’s strengths and worked together to overcome weaknesses to create an album larger than themselves individually.

In the album, genres live comfortably next to each other–punk fuses with pop, post punk and jazz glitter tracks, even a bit of reggae peeks through the mix. Songs like “I Miss You,” “Violence,” and “Fallen Interlude” show a side of blink 182 that had hid from many of their records. That said, even when they band did the same things they had on previous records, something about the way they played made the songs better. “Down” seemed to retread the tones and feelings of “Adam’s Song,” but it did so with more confidence, more transparency than before.

Granted the lyrics of the album are not as revelatory as they might have been for a high schooler trying to make sense of the world around them, but thirteen years later, they still induce a sense of magic and wonderment in me. Obsessed with lost love, blink 182 is an introduction to mourning. It might not be the most nuanced or subtle take on the feeling, but it let’s its listeners get a taste of the sadness that fills the void in the wake of a relationship’s end.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in “Always.” The song signals the impending end of the album and does it while shifting the energy blink 182 always has in their songs into an elegaic mode. There’s a cloying cleveriness to Tom DeLong’s naivete and lyrical dabbling in new sincerity. One actually believes he is crooning to a lost love. This sort of voyeurism that predominates the song and many of the other tracks of the album gives blink 182 a “learn-by-observation” feel.

Is the 2003 self-titled album the best in the band’s discography? I don’t know. Does it stand the test of time? Most likely not. Is it incredibly fun and passionate and full of sublime juxtapositions? Without a doubt. Whether you’re a fan of blink 182 or hate their guts, this album does things other albums and other artists only dream of accomplishing.

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