+44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating
"We were two-thirds of blink-182, so we're not afraid of sounding like ourselves", says Mark Hoppus, back with a new band along with fellow bandmate Travis Barker. "...but we are pushing beyond the past. We're progressing like musicians should".
Well, they certainly sound like blink-182, who weren't that great a band to begin with. Whilst their former guitarist Tom DeLonge is content making over-blown pretentious music about UFO's in Angels and Airwaves, Hoppus and Barker have basically picked up where blink-182 ended. This is an album of very straightforward, predictable rock, with dull, flat vocals and lyrics full of introspection and little that makes any sense. Together with Shane Gallagher and Craig Fairbrass, +44 (named after the UK international dialling code) are little that you have not already heard before in many other bands.
That is not to say that some of the songs aren't reasonably good. Opening single Lycanthrope is interesting enough in a crunchy sort of way, whilst title track When Your Heart Stops Beating is an impressive piece of power-pop, jangling guitars plodding out a beat against some frenetic drums.
For the most part though, there is a sense of "sameness" throughout this album, where nothing particularly jumps out at you. Lillian, with its waltz time-signature, meanders back and forth taking an age to reach its conclusion, Weatherman likewise dragging on in an equally boring fashion. Interlude is probably one of the better tracks, in that it is the shortest, and also the one with something slightly different to add to the mix, something else they attempt on Make You Smile, a perky and spirited number. Final track Chapter 13 also raises things up a level, bringing a much needed sense of the epic to the conclusion of the album.
This is a much more straight-forward proposition than Angels and Airwaves, though neither album is of much merit. At least DeLonge is his band is showing a more creative edge and attempting something different. This is an album with too little creativity, with nothing to lift it above the competition.