Plus 44 - When Your Heart Stops Beating (Cover Artwork)

Plus 44

When Your Heart Stops Beating (2006)


I never considered myself a huge fan of Blink-182 and didn't really care for their side projects, so I didn't really know what to expect when checking out the two post-Blink-182 bands. After being treated to a tiresome and uninteresting debut by Angels and Airwaves, it was hard to collect real thought on what would come of the debut from the other post-Blink band, +44. With +44 originally announced as an electronic-based project, I never paid attention while Carol Heller left the band and they enlisted Shane Gallagher and Craig Fairbaugh to complete the band's lineup. Maybe it was the way it was supposed to be, but I hadn't a clue to what the album would sound like; in the end I was completely stunned by the mammoth debut known as When Your Heart Stops Beating.

The album kicks off with with an extremely energetic approach in "Lycanthrope," an almost Blink-182-sounding tune. "Baby, Come On" shows the imprints of the band's earlier state, as the song utilizes electronic drums and synth in the verses leading into an extremely catchy chorus that once again will sit well with fans of Blink-182. It also only takes two songs before a few similarities between this and Motion City Soundtrack's Commit This to Memory become apparent -- maybe Mark Hoppus took notes when producing the Minneapolis nerds' sophomore album. Songs like "Little Death" and "Lillian" showcase the softer side of the band, both musically and lyrically as each features lush instrumentation and Hoppus's most personal lyrics to date.

"155" has the band drawing influences from the Cure and even slides in a few handclaps, while "Cliff Diving" could have been a Blink-182 B-side. "Weatherman" and "No, It Isn't" are both darker and depressing songs that dwell on the breakup of Blink-182 and fall-out between the band and Tom DeLonge, while "Make You Smile" features Hoppus and Heller exchanging lines over a rather bare song structure, showing the softest side that +44 has to offer.

When Your Heart Stops Beating is now arguably the best album to result from the Blink-182 hiatus/breakup/whatever. While there are a few similarities to Blink-182, +44 stand out on their own with their ability to craft both energetic and catchy pop-punk songs and melodic, atmospheric ballads. Mark Hoppus finds himself on top of his game here, with some of his best singing and lyrics yet, while Travis Barker still proves he is one hell of a drummer. When Your Heart Stops Beating is sometimes a catchy and fun release that is exceedingly upbeat, but occasionally transforms into a dark and eerie, personal album, which allows the listener to take in the band in both varieties and discover just how talented these guys are.