I recently discovered +44 via Blink-182 and quickly went out to buy the album. This is what I thought of each individual song, and then the album as a whole.
Lycanthrope – Brilliant intro to the album. Infallible drums, great guitars and bass. Even the vocals from Mark Hoppus are good, and this surprised me as I was used to Tom DeLonge from blink-182. Also, the lyrics are quite dark, which is another welcome change from blink-182’s immature songs. But enough of comparing +44 to blink-182, I really like this song. 9/10.
Baby Come On – A lot slower than Lycanthrope, and this sudden change confused me for a second. The song gets going a bit more in the chorus, but doesn’t really get that edge that Lycanthrope had. To me, the lyrics in this song seem a bit more awkward and forced, although the line “the past is only the future with the lights on” is good. 5/10.
When Your Heart Stops Beating – Title track of the album, and it goes more towards the speed of Lycanthrope. The chorus is infinitely catchy, with vocal harmonies and excellent playing on the instruments. The drums in this song are particularly remarkable (and extremely hard to play! I’ve tried!) and this is my favourite song on the entire album, and a good song as a title track. 10/10.
Little Death – Again, another slower song. +44 are proving to be diverse in this way. This song has a good sound to it, but I can’t really explain it. The chorus even pulls at my heartstrings a little, despite the fact that it’s not really a heartstring-y song! The line “a little death makes life more meaningful” is pure brilliance. Most of the rest of the lyrics seem like they have some strange deeper meaning that I can’t see and, therefore, I can’t comment on this! 6/10.
155 – Another faster song! Must they really alternate like this? It gives the impression that the tracks were put together in any old order, which they really shouldn’t have been. Another good chorus, with overlapping vocals, but the song is brought down by verses that are, quite honestly, a bit dull. And suddenly at the end there is a different section, which seems a bit out of place. All the same, I still like this song. 8/10.
Lillian – In my opinion, the intro to this song is too long. I get bored before something happens! And once again, it starts off slowly, although this is soon remedied with the chorus. While not actually being much faster, the guitars start up a bit more and make the song feel that much faster. All the instruments do their job in this song, but I can’t help but find Mark Hoppus’ vocals a little whiny in this song. It’s not too bad in the chorus, where there’s some backing vocals to help him out, but his voice in the verses just grinds on my ears. 7/10.
Cliffdiving – It’s faster again – they really should have done something about this track order. This song seems to be the typical song of a guy looking back at a relationship with a girl, and wishing that he had done things differently (emphasized with the lines “this time I’ll do things proper / how did it get to this?). In theory, this song is good. I mean, I can’t find anything that I don’t like about it. Except for the song as a whole. I just don’t like it as much as I probably should. 6/10.
Interlude – Like the title says, this is, quite literally, an interlude to the album. It even comes in about half way through the run-time of the album. Although it’s just an interlude, I think +44 could have done more with this. After the initial thoughts of “huh? what’s this?” I started to actually like it, only for it to end after just over a minute! Also, it carries on the alternating fast/slow speeds of the songs. 7/10.
Weatherman – Oh look! It’s two slow songs in a row! The lyrics to this song are blatantly dark (one of the lines is actually just “I’m dying”). Sadly, I must admit that the verses are too boring for me, and I skip past this song almost every time it starts playing. Despite that, the chorus isn’t half bad, and I don’t mind it really. 5/10.
No It Isn’t – The song that everyone thinks was written about Tom DeLonge and the split of blink-182. Honestly, I would agree with them if the lyrics weren’t so strong (such as “this isn’t just goodbye / this is I can’t stand you”). I think to myself “was it really that bad for them?” and can’t see that it was. But what do I know, it’s not like I was in blink-182 with them. Anyway, the song starts slower but picks up speed as it goes. At the end, everything’s really got going and there’s a great sound being made. One of the better songs of the album. 8/10.
Make You Smile – The only song to retain vocals from Carol Heller. This song has a more electronic feel to it for some reason. The alternating vocals between Hoppus and Heller sound good to me, but some people find it annoying. In the chorus they both sing and it actually sounds quite good. However, the song in itself is a bit repetitive and I end up skipping to the next track after about 2 and a half minutes. 7/10.
Chapter 13 – Another song about a girl. Good drums from Travis Barker, but the guitars are almost monotonous throughout the verse, and not much better in the chorus. The vocals from Mark Hoppus begin to annoy me in this song too, especially as it is over 5 minutes long. However, towards the end, the song proves itself different from other typical songs about girls, with the lines “and we’ll both take revenge / but we still won’t feel any better”. A bit of an anti-climax to the album in my view. 6/10.
Bonus tracks – There are several bonus tracks to this album (or at least, my version of the album has a few). An acoustic version of Baby Come On comes first, and I think this is actually better than the non-acoustic version. It sounds a lot more sincere and real. Then comes the Weatherman acoustic version. It’s a little more interesting than the non-acoustic version, in that it has quite a bit of plucking on the guitar, but other than that there isn’t much else to make it any different. 145 come next, being an acoustic version of 155. Although still a good song, I think the original is better. A track not included on the album, but labelled as an official B-side by the band, is the electronic version of When Your Heart Stops Beating. Now this truly is interesting to listen to. There isn’t much to the verses save for electronic sounds instead of guitars and a stronger beat. But there’s some more texture to the song during the chorus and overall, it’s quite a good song.
On the whole, the album is good. In my view, it’s brought down by a bad track order. The slower songs don’t really do the members justice, as they’ve shown they’re capable of some really aggressive songs, but at least they’re writing what they want to. I’m definitely waiting for the band’s next album, whenever that will be.
+44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating – 8/10