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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. [This is the album's clean version with no profanities.]

Customer Reviews

Totally Unexpected

I first heard "No It Isn't" back in Decmber of 2005 and based on that recording I had no idea what to expect from this band. But this almost year-long wait has definitely been worth it. I used to be a huge Blink fan but by the time this album came out I was getting tired of hearing the same old thing, I wanted to hear some new lyrics and a fresh sound that still kept that same upbeat feel of Blink. This CD has that. Unlike AVA (which is neither light or super appealing), Plus 44 manages to keep a light feel without losing its edge or appeal. Each song manages to go well with all the others without compromising variety. It has slower songs like No It Isn't and Weatherman. As well as louder, faster songs like 155 and Cliff Diving. It is a really diverse CD if you listen to it enough, every song is distinct and unique which makes the CD appropriate for any mood. I'm addicted to it and I can't really pick favorite songs anymore, so here's a quick summary Lycanthrope-loud and edgy, good CD opener Baby Come On- Addictive chorus, kind of a sad and longing song When Your Heart Stops Beating- Uptempo and easy to learn, good choice for a single Little Death- Slower and calmer, Mark's voice sounds pretty cool on this track 155- something about the lyrics/beat makes this easy to sing along with, one of my top picks Lillian- cleaner with less guitar, sounds kind of nostalgic and regretful Cliff Diving- This song and In This Diary by the Ataris are the best Summer songs, listen to it a few times through and you'll get why Interlude- slow and kind of mysterious works as a good lead in to Weatherman Weatherman- also slow and mysterious, low tones with prominant bass and snare, this is also one of my top picks No It Isn't- hateful lyrics (rumor has it they're directed at Tom), back vocals are done by Carol Heller, good song for whne your angry Make You Smile- Call and responce between Mark and Carol, its refreshing to hear a female voice in this genre of music Chapter 13- nice way to end the CD, loud and edgy and somewhat resentful *fun fact* the CD without the bonus track (which is not on the actual CD) is exactly 44 minutes long

A Must Buy! Definitely Better Than Angels And Airwaves!

"When You Heart Stops Beating," (although that name would suggest an emo album...this is not). Mark Hoppus has really out done himself lyrically in this album. Travis Barker is his same amazing self. And both the guitarrists play stuff that would not seem out of place if it were the next Blink album. Some of the noteworthy tracks include: 1)When Your Heart Stops Beating- the band's first single and an extremely catchy song. Nothing emo about this...get your mind out of the gutter. 2)Little Death- probobly one of the band's next singles as it is one of the better songs on the album with a really catchy chorus. The verses are strangely dark with a second voice under marks making it seem a little spooky. 3)155- A great upbeat song with a great chorus and a great climactic ending. Rocking guitars with Cure-esque synth lines over it. One of the better songs on the album, and definitely a future single. 4)Weatherman- Darkest song Mark has ever written. Huge choruses....and a giant climax with the inclusion of Carol Heller's voice near the end. A great overall song...but not a song for the radio, too dark. 5)Make You Smile-This song features Carol Heller and really seems like her song. Amazing lyrics and a great call and response verse that is only hurt by the chorus. Im not that much of a fan of the chorus, but it is a song that grows on you as you listen more. 6)Chapter XIII- this track showcases some of Travis's best drumming. If your looking for a straight up rock song..this is the one. Great album overall, definitely better than Angels And Airwaves. Better than Blink-182?....Don't go that far. Nothing too innovative on this cd as it all seems strangely familiar. Sometimes the electronic drums get a little annoying when it seems as though live drums would fit just as well. The negatives weren't enough to outweigh the positives. Great album...5/5!

loves it

these songs rock! You wont be disapointed. just the type of music you want to get up to and dace...or just sing along to in your room. Very good songs..if you like blink-182, or box car racers, you'll love these songs cuz duh! its travis barker and mark hoppus! loves it!!!


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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