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Blink-182, ‘Blink-182’ (Geffen)

Blink-182 are still pop-rock’s reigning pranksters. But just because the California punks haven’t grown up, doesn’t mean they haven’t fattened up. Amplifying their trademark party-punk sound with the keyboards, strings, and the occasional acoustic guitar, it might seem like this band of ten years has finally embraced adulthood. “I Miss You” is among the group’s most mature numbers, a lengthy lament on relationship and loss. With its muddled guitars and chorus, “Easy Target” also touches on Strokes-style modern garage rock, mixing subtle guitar chords with introspective lyrics. In fact, inblink-182‘s caboose is an extended ballad, titled “I’m Lost Without You,” which seems a pretty clear sign that the punk trio is addressing issues beyond puberty and porn. Given its heavy production palette, it might even appear that these Green Day heirs have finally recorded their version ofNimrod.

But hidden within the trio’s eponymous sixth album is the same obnoxious, not-quite-so-lovable, gang of rabble-rousers. Bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus still snarls like Johnny Rotten’s suburban cousin. Guitarist Tom DeLonge makes sure his fast three-chord rock is the base for even his more melodramatic numbers, while Travis Landon Barker keeps the rhythm simple and tight. The album’s pair of ’80s-inspired cuts,”Always” and “All of This” might have artsy New Wave stylings, but are driven by hardcore heaviness and adolescent adrenaline.

While never as catchy as their breakthrough Enema of the State, nor as haphazardly humorous as their trio of independent releases, blink-182 might be the group’s most ambitious effort, and one that will no doubt attract a new, post-punk audience. But the disc’s perennial Parental Advisory sticker shows at least some things will never change.