MP3: Blink-182's "Up All Night" a Comeback Single About Demons, Not Partying

Categories: Music News
It has been two-and-a-half years since Blink-182 announced its re-formation, not long after drummer Travis Barker's brush with death in a plane crash. Since then, the band has toured the world, headlined huge European festivals, and embarked on solo albums (and, in the case of Barker, toured with Lil Wayne). Details of their heavily delayed sixth studio album have remained scarce, though. Although far from being a Chinese Democracy-esque situation, rumors that Geffen gave the band a summer deadline to turn in the album and Tom DeLonge's stating the obvious -- "recording is never really finished; you slide or limp into home base" -- have created a sense of anticipation for the new material that can't possibly be matched with "Up All Night," the first new song to emerge -- or can it?

A lot has undoubtedly happened since Barker, Mark Hoppus, and DeLonge last recorded together. When Blink initially broke in 1999, Limp Bizkit was the biggest band in the world, and many of the 15 million people who bought Enema of the State will simply not care about this kind of music anymore. Or perhaps they view the band nostalgically rather than artistically worthwhile. For many, Blink-182 is simply an enduring guilty pleasure or a reminder of a simpler time -- probably at high school or college, when people bought CDs and comedy acoustic songs about fucking a dog could be conflated with tightly constructed and vitalized punk-pop. And let's not forget that DeLonge has spent the past five years fronting his vaguely evangelical stadium-rock band Angels and Airwaves -- which has yielded more ridicule than changed lives.

"Up All Night" opens with an ominously phased guitar intro and quickly settles into a downtuned muscular guitar riff that recalls DeLonge and Barker's "serious" side project, Boxcar Racer. The verse feels much more vintage Blink, as the exchanged back-and-forth vocals gradually build to a rousing chorus with a hint of the surging Auto-Tune that characterized Angels and Airwaves slightly embarrassing '80s rock. Fortunately, it's all kept under control, and despite the composite of dynamic shifts that seem to be going on (for a Blink-182 song), it all seems to nicely fit together with a sense of tight production and an arrangement that I'm sure they'll claim justifies two years of studio time.

During the chorus, it's apparent that this isn't a track about what it's like to be at a Dazed and Confused party that goes on all night -- as one would hope, and what they might have sung about ten years ago -- but something altogether darker, mature, and universal: "Demons, they keep me up all night/They keep me up all night." The whole thing feels like a retrospective reminder that at a certain point, probably around 2002, Blink became self-consciously serious about everything -- claiming to be influenced by Fugazi and Refused, drafting in Robert Smith to sing some verses, listing the different guitars/tunings they used to record, and not making videos where they'd run about naked.

This is an impulse that the guys are clearly still embracing -- understandably so, considering the circumstances of their reconciliation. As if to reinforce this, just as the track seems to logically finish before the three-minute mark, the band breaks into a reprise of the opening and jams out the big heavy riff for another 30 seconds. It doesn't really add anything to the song's construction and feels like a rehearsal-room moment or maybe a live improv playing to the crowd. Maybe someone told them that their big comeback song had to be longer than three minutes and they went back to the studio to jam it out. It still sounds lean, focused, and determined and most important gives the very real sense that they're enjoying playing with one another again.

Stream: Blink-182's "Up All Night"

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