Back in January 2010, Mark Hoppus was struggling to describe the new songs he was working on with Blink-182 — about the best thing he could come up with was "weird" — when all of a sudden, almost by accident, or perhaps because he was tired of searching for adjectives, he switched gears and began discussing the myriad of outside projects he and his bandmates were involved in, and how they were influencing Blink's new direction.
"I think that everything that everyone works on outside of Blink comes back to Blink. And being involved in all these different projects allows us to go off and try different ideas and bring those ideas back home to what we do every day. And I think it's a really positive thing," Hoppus said. "I know it's confusing for people, because everyone's like, 'Tom's doing this, and Travis is doing this, and Mark's producing ... why aren't you guys focusing on Blink?' But I think what people need to understand is that, that's how we focus on Blink. We go off, and we bring all these different pieces and ideas back, and we get inspired by other artists and get inspired by working with different people, and then when we come back to Blink, it just helps us.
"Everybody listens to such different stuff. Tom is really into, like, '80s stadium rock; huge, monumental '80s rock bands. Travis is all over the place musically, and he always comes up with beats and drum parts that are so way out that I would never think of them," he continued. "And I've just been listening to a lot of weird indie rock. So somewhere between amazing hip-hop beats, stadium rock and indie rock, you'll find Blink."
And now, we know exactly what he meant. Because on Thursday night — something like 12 hours ahead of schedule — Blink premiered "Up All Night," the first single off their much-anticipated new album. And for all the hype surrounding it, it is very much the way Hoppus described it: a booming, skittering mix of beats, arena-rock and yes, maybe even a little indie.
In short, "Up All Night" (which debuted on the band's website and Los Angeles radio station KROQ) is the perfect synthesis of everything Blink's three members have been doing in the eight years since their last record. The boom-bap backbeat recalls Travis Barker's solo album (and umpteen hip-hop remixes). The fluttering electronics bring to mind Hoppus and Barker's Plus-44 project. The widescreen chorus reflects the scope of Tom DeLonge's Angels & Airwaves. And the air-tight production reminds me of Hoppus' work with Motion City Soundtrack.
Of course, the song also drums up memories of Box Car Racer, the late, lamented DeLonge and Barker band (it sounds very much like a muscled-up version of "Elevator"), and Blink's decidedly darker self-titled album, too. But at the same time — and in a testament to the band's talents — it never really feels like a retread ... it represents a new Blink for a new millennium, one capable of combining slipstream sonics with ripping chords and an absolute corker of a chorus.
So now, finally, Blink are back. With "Up All Night," they not only prove that they've learned from the past but that they're willing to embrace the future. And by doing so, they may have also proved an old adage wrong: Perhaps you can teach old dogs new tricks.