On Tuesday, Blink-182 will be releasing their reunion album, the first release in eight years. Seeing as the band is incredibly influential, they deserve a bit of special treatment. In the days leading up to Neighborhoods‘ release, we will be publishing a review of each of the band’s albums. Kicking things off is a review of their 1994 debut, Cheshire Cat.
Cheshire Cat is a bit of an oddity in the canon of Blink albums and finds itself near the bottom in terms of quality. It lacks the polish that the band would later find on subsequent records, though this comes as no surprise as it was a fairly independent release. It also is them at perhaps their most punk, featuring the some of their fastest and heaviest instrumentation along with some of Tom DeLonge’s best guitar riffs. While the songwriting (which Blink was never known for) isn’t the best on the album, and the boys have no inkling of the sincerity they would later find, it does contain some memorable songs that give it some saving grace.
The album kicks off with one of the band’s best, and instantly recognizable songs, the bass-driven “Carousel.” While Mark Hoppus would later joke that he only played bass because he sucked at guitar, the instrumental opening of the track proves that he is an extremely capable bassist. The vocals from DeLonge never show hints of the whininess he would later adopt. There is a reason the band has consistently played this song live since its release.
For the most part, Hoppus is the one who lags in the vocal department, though he would later find his voice. Many of his deliveries fall flat, as shown on songs like “Sometimes,” “M+M’s” and “Wasting Time.” DeLonge’s vocal style truly shines on songs like the aforementioned “Carousel,” Toast and Bananas” and “Romeo and Rebecca.”
Perhaps most notable is the careless nature of the album. While the band would be known as casual jokesters for most of their career, they never were as comical as they are here. There are joke skits performed on the album, mostly at the beginning or end of tracks. While this takes away from the overall enjoyment of the album, it shows that the boys were just beginning and yet to take themselves completely seriously.
The fact that Cheshire Cat has such a carefree nature to it almost makes the idea of reviewing it nonsensical. How do you remain critical about something that bashes you over the head with the notion of a happy-go-lucky attitude? While Cheshire Cat is one of the band’s worst albums, it does contain some memorable tracks and certainly provided the framework that the band would expand on with releases to come.