The Voice Inside My Head: What We Can Take from Blink 182’s Self-Titled Album 15 Years Later
It Deserves Another Listen
The early millennium saw a change in America, the world, and Blink 182. If you were coming of age in the turmoil that was post 9/11, growing up in uncertain times, when the usual narratives disintegrated into dust, Blink grew right beside you. They released their self-titled album, usually meant for a debut, but one could easily call this a re-birth. The early part of the decade forced us to move, to think, to grow and Mark, Tom, and Travis did that on this album, without hesitation. It was 2003, two years after the towers fell. The war in Iraq was caught on camera, the Lord of the Rings movies were the biggest films in the United States, and Blink dropped an album after a hiatus. The world was still shook in the aftermath of 9/11. Fear, paranoia, and darkness flowed from newsstands to newsfeeds, while war and xenophobia bounced in and out of thoughts and conversations. This album wasn’t meant for the world though, it was meant for you, and you alone.
There are a lot of questions on this album. Actual questions. But It is not about the kind of questions that are asked, it is just that questions alone, whether personal or political, reflect progress. They leave things open, and they beg for clarity, maybe even change. In "I Miss You," Tom belts out the famous line “where are you?” in a way only he can. "Stockholm Syndrome," gives us existentialist questions such as “Where do we go? (life's temporary) After we're gone/ (like New Year's resolutions)/Why is this hard?/ (do you recognize me?/)I know I'm wrong (but I can't help believing).” "Lost Without You"is more on the romantic side; “Are you afraid of being alone?/Because I am, I'm lost without you/Are you afraid of leaving tonight?/Because I am, I'm lost without you.” Although the lyrics are sometimes dark and filled with uncertainty, the questions are asked in hope that one day they’ll be answered. This leaves the future open. There are no hard endings here, just hope. In the early 00’s, hope was what we needed.
This call to the future not only rests in the lyrics but also shows itself in the sound. The echoes and harmonies play with space and time. The bridges are cool and otherworldly. They suggest there is something beyond what we’re listening to. They ask that you don’t get stuck in the immediate experience, that it is always connected to something else. The songs blend into each other and give us the feeling of one thing always moving into another, and that there is something else to look forward to.
The instruments on I Miss You are unexpected with Travis using jazz brushes and Mark on stand up bass. Blink evolved beautifully. The song can’t be kept within the lines of genre. Along with the sound, the way the songs were created was an open process with dual creativity and communication. "Feeling This" had Tom and Mark writing in two different rooms. They brought their lyrics together, Tom on verses and Mark on the chorus, and made one song from two perspectives. Mark offered insight into the song Violence stating “this song is a pairing of seemingly incompatible musical styles. I love the bridge. It takes the listener to such a different place very smooth and beautiful.” During a time when the world felt split in two (or three, or four), this album was an example of different viewpoints coming together and creating something amazing and cohesive.
The album was meant for you. While other Blink albums are fun and group friendly, this album is meant for your headphones, it is meant for your bedroom, it is meant for your car. The interludes, like the "Stockholm Syndrome Interlude"and "The Fallen Interlude," are for personal listening. The songs are meant for pause, reflection, and repeat. The album’s sonic quality and lyrics need to be heard closely, with sound gems and philosophical lyrics that are meant to be taken in, and analyzed along with your thoughts, whether they be about your day or your entire life. This is for you.
This album was about looking to the future during a time when the world felt stuck and muddy. While many of the songs are about failure, desperation, and depression, they still ask questions that demand an answer. A better future lies in between the lyrics and floats above the songs. This album is still living, it carries on, and it still shows itself especially now when everything feels uncertain again. We still have Blink 182’s self-titled album, always.