Over the span of their 11-year career, blink-182 resolutely refused to grow up. They were the perpetual high school losers who couldn't get a date and killed time by trying to outgross each other with fart jokes. But the San Diego snot-core trio has dropped the potty humor and made its most expansive and, gulp, mature (despite its being untitled) CD yet.
Though it would've been laughable to throw a term like ''concept album'' at these pranksters in past years, this effort a song cycle about a nose-diving relationship qualifies. The tip-off: It has an instrumental interlude. None other than the king of mope, the Cure's Robert Smith, consecrates the recrimination-filled proceedings with a cameo vocal on ''All of This.'' Even more fascinating is how the band rejiggers its multiplatinum pop-punk formula with adventurous production choices. The Queen-like vocal harmonies that sew up ''Feeling This,'' the wall-of-sound grandeur of ''Obvious,'' the melancholy piano, acoustic bass, and brushstroked hip-hop groove of ''I Miss You'' and that's just the first three songs.
Despite their newfound earnestness, Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker seem incapable of pretension. And in a career littered with songs about awkward moments, their latest is a dork classic. A-