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When Your Heart Stops Beating

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Album Review

Of the two groups that appeared from the ashes of blink-182's 2005 implosion — the Tom DeLonge-headed Angels and Airwaves and Mark Hoppus/Travis Barker-helmed +44 — it's refreshing to see that at least one of them (i.e., the latter) realized that moving on from the past didn't necessarily mean turning your back on it. On their debut, When Your Heart Stops Beating, +44 has managed to balance out upbeat rockers and somber introspections to create a record that is thoughtful and composed, yet fun, and almost like the album blink could have made had they stuck together. This is alternative rock derived from guys with pop-punk pasts, but it's much more reserved than expected, meaty hooks and cheeky exuberance not oozing out of every corner. Its sober and meditative qualities aren't completely surprising — after all, the blink breakup didn't leave ex-members unscathed — but +44's infectious and stomping first single, "When Your Heart Stops Beating," is a bit misleading since nothing here is quite as immediate as that song. Toned down doesn't mean tedious, however, and the album gets better with each listen. +44's initial focus was on electronics, and though that ultimately took a backseat to guitar-driven rock, it's still present as an undercurrent throughout. This coupled with the clean and tight playing of guitarists Craig Fairbaugh and Shane Gallagher, whose contributions are key to the band's effectiveness, gives +44 a distinct sound away from both blink-182's punk recklessness and Angels and Airwaves' forced grandeur. Bitterness creeps into many songs — this is definitely a post-band-breakup album — and tracks like "No, It Isn't" are blatant stabs at Hoppus and Barker's now-strained relationship with DeLonge ("Please understand, this isn't just goodbye, this is I can't stand you"). But not every song is overtly focused on that drama, evidenced in cuts like the summery "Cliffdiving" and the especially lovely electro-piano-based "Make You Smile," which features Carol Heller (briefly a member of +44 in its initial phase). Somber tracks like "Weatherman" and "Little Death" are some of the moodiest songs Hoppus has ever sung, but nothing here feels forced, so it's easy to forgive him when things don't always hit the mark. Plus, he does a much more convincing job fronting a new project than DeLonge; his vocals meld nicely with the sonic structure of +44 to allow the band its own identity instead of just conjuring images of skateboards and Hurley shirts at every turn. Even with its flaws, When Your Heart Stops Beating possesses a surprising vulnerability, which gives the album an understated strength and makes it such an enjoyable listen. This is light-years away from the pretension of Angels and Airwaves, and an unexpected treat from a band that really sounds like it has a future together.

Customer Reviews

+44 vs. AVA

Every Blink-182 fan in the world is trying hard to decide who is better, +44 (Mark and Travis' band) or AVA (Tom's band). The truth is that the two are barely comparable, but that's not very helpful if you want to know whether or not it's worth it to buy the whole thing. I'll start by saying that this was a curiosity buy for me. I had bought We Don't Need to Whisper because I was a huge Blink fan before they broke up and I needed to see how that would compare with Blink's stuff. When this came out I needed to hear it because I needed to see which was better, this or AVA's stuff (I think it's safe to say that Blink-182 is ten times better than both bands). I listened to Tom's album, and it was clear that he should go back to writing his punk rock sprinkled with dirty sex jokes. +44 may have left most of the sex jokes behind, but Mark and Travis stayed true to the original formula of Blink instead of going out on a limb with sucky lyrics and a hell of a lot of melodrama. Also, Mark and Travis didn't take the libery of saying that this was going to be the greatest album in "20 Years" which Tom did along with blowing the entire ordeal out of preportion with his many outrageous claims. In the end it really comes down to preference. Neither album compares with anything that Blink-182 did, but both are still legitimate music coming from very legitimate musicians. If you liked Blink but didn't enjoy AVA I want to tell you not to disregard this. At least buy Baby Come On and No, It Isn't. I have to say that I may prefer this one, but if you were a big fan of Blink than this is something you have to check out for yourself. My final word, if you're really curious listen to both. You don't have to buy them both, but if you only wanted to buy one I would recommend this.

Great Album: Fast, Fun, and Insightful

Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, Shane Gallagher, and Craig Fairbaugh have recorded a blink182-esque album without all the sex and fart jokes. Instead for announcing their band as the greatest thing since sliced bread (See Angels and Airwaves, led by Barker's & Hoppus' former bandmate Tom DeLonge) Plus 44 recorded a musically diverse album that does all the talking for them. Tracks like Baby Come On, Cliff Diving, and Lycanthrope will fill you with energy, and Little Death, Weatherman, and Lillian are slower with introspective lyrics. From the beauty of the electro influenced Make You Smile and 155 to the rock of No, It Isn't (Yes it is about DeLonge) and Chapter 13 (Which is by far my favorite track on the album), this stunning album is a sound addition to any iTunes library. BUY IT!


I got my cd a day early! (I pre-ordered it) and I got to see them live! If you get a chance to see them play with The Matches DO IT! This IS the best album I've heard this year. I mean that! These songs are so emotional. I think Baby Come On was written about me. Mark, Shane, Travis and Graig really did a great job. Best tracks: 1. Baby, Come On 2. 155 3. Weatherman 4. Interlude 5. No, It Isn't 6. Little Death 7. When Your Heart Stops Beating 8. Chapter Xlll 9. Lycanthrope 10. Lillian 11. Cliffdiving 12. Make you smile Go buy WYHSB! It's way better than We Don't Need to Listen......I mean We Don't Need to Whisper. I like AVA but Tom kinda changed. I won't get into that though. It's not about who's better though, it's about the music and how it makes you feel.....The album cover comes in 3 colors blue, pink, and green. 5 stars for +44!


Formed: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Forming during pop-punk trio blink-182's 2005 hiatus, +44 brought blink alums Travis Barker (drums) and Mark Hoppus (vocals/bass) back together as their former bandmate Tom DeLonge went off to form his own band, Angels and Airwaves. Originally billed as a largely electronic-based project, their songs eventually fell instead under the alternative rock umbrella; their name came from the international dialing code to the United Kingdom, where the duo first discussed doing the project. The two initially...
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When Your Heart Stops Beating, +44
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