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    When Your Heart Stops Beating

    Thu, 16 Nov 2006 11:04:28

    Album Reviews: When Your Heart Stops Beating by +44

    I was never the biggest fan of blink-182. There was always something about them that irked me. When Your Heart Stops Beating, +44's debut album, assures me that that something was Tom DeLonge. Tom was one-third of blink's trio, and when he ditched to do his arena rock thing with Angels & Airwaves, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker recruited two more guitarists and it was on. +44 is blink minus Tom's whine and cheese.

    When Your Heart Stops Beating sounds a good deal like Blink's last -- and best -- album. That self-titled release was darker than anything they had ever done before, their first step on the way to that "mature" thing bands always strive for in their later years. And it found Mark taking a more vocal role, with songs that were dirty and dark instead of silly and poppy. Tom was already being phased out.

    +44 is the completion of this trend, and with Mark at the vocal controls, this new batch of songs stays in familiar territory: relationships. But it's more than just boy-meets-girl, gets-dumped-by-girl. Mark weaves themes of missed opportunities, new desires, and hope for the future into the trio of swirling guitars over Travis' always-rolling drums.

    It's clear these veterans are comfortable in their musical styles, as both Tom and Mark settle easily into the melodic pop they have always created. But while Tom faltered in his grandiose ambitions, +44 are not trying to reinvent the wheel. They don't need to. Here, they improve on what they know, and strike a sound that should please fans of blink, as well as punk fans who, like me, disliked Tom's nasal vocals. When Your Heart Stops Beating proves that sometimes breakups work out best for the dumped. - David Pessah, kNewIt06

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