By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
If blink-182's last record, the surprisingly maudlin Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, was like a pinch of novocaine in the Vaseline, the debut from Boxcar Racer (a side project featuring blink singer-guitarist Tom Delonge and drummer Travis Barker) is even more numbing. Listening to this disc--with its pair of brooding, quasi-acoustic ballads and but one penis reference--is akin to sucking down a beer bong full of O'Doul's.
Not that the record is a complete buzzkill. "My First Punk Song" is Delonge at his most feral: a one-minute burst of sandblasted hardcore. "And I" is a muscular punk anthem underlined with a savage hip-hop beat. "All Systems Go" is bottled adrenaline.
Still, when things slow down, and Delonge begins to mine his emo influences, Boxcar Racer becomes gushy and overwrought. Soul-searching songs such as "Letters to God" and "There Is" are just as laughable as they are confessional. "Sometimes I wish I was smart," Delonge sings on the sappy "I Feel So." Too bad he doesn't realize how bright he already is: How else can one explain such past lyrical gems as "Take off your pants, Dad, your penis is the biggest thing my butt's ever had"? Here, he's thinking way too much.
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