Even though this review is using the term “retro” extremely loosely, this album is actually ten years old now. Box Car Racer was a side-project started by Blink-182’s Tom Delonge and Travis Barker. Eventually it had a pretty big hand in Blink’s 2005 break up but that’s neither here nor there. TRL viewers, Blink fans, and Tom Delonge-followers were a little taken off guard about Box Car’s one and only album. Mainly though, the album still holds up ten years later despite it being a little dated.
The album opens with a light piano tune, an acoustic riff, then loud as hell drums and guitar feedback with a droning bass in “I Feel So,” the first single to the album. Right off the bat this tells listeners that you are not going to be listening to Blink-182.
Flashing back to 2002, there were students in class talking about how this album was just a Travis Barker drum project. That claim still holds up because the album definitely has some of Barker’s best beats and drum patterns to date. The dark guitar sound is something that Barker works well with, then again what does the man not work well with? C’mon.
Tom Delonge’s voice is more natural on the album than it is on any other Blink record, which is interesting. The way he sings, or lack thereof, live is something that is constantly brought up when discussing the band live so one can’t help but wonder if this is where Delonge started to feel more comfortable singing in his new, odd, way.
But speaking of Blink’s other work, Box Car Racer only has one song that can be placed on any Blink album seamlessly. “And I” is the most Box Car gets to being a pop-punk, radio friendly band. “There Is” of course played on the radio and had its lyrics etched into every freshman composition, but that song is nowhere near the album’s sound. The whole album actually has songs that are similar in sound. Other than “There Is” each song has a sibling on the album. It’s interesting to think whether or not Delonge did that on purpose or not and honestly really affects the grade just because of how cool that theory is.
Box Car Racer couldn’t come out today without sounding behind the times. The album set the stepping stones for bands with darker tones coming into the mainstream (most of these bands were found on Victory Records). The album is still entertaining enough and experimental enough to keep the listener around.