The Blink 182 legacy lives on in the growing cohort of post-mortem side projects in which its members have gone on to reap their already-established success. When your heart stops beating marks the entry of +44 to a growing catalogue including Boxcar Racer, Angels and Airwaves and the Transplants. Formed by Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker in the wake of Blink’s February 2005 indefinite hiatus, +44 also consists of Shane Gallagher and former Transplants guitarist Craig Fairbaugh, as well as vocals from SoCal punk icon Carol Heller.
While +44 takes itself far less seriously than Tom Delonge’s self-important-to-the-point-of-being-masturbatory side project Angels and Airwaves, Mark Hoppus has clearly matured as a songwriter. Straying away from pop punk to a more directly power pop alternative, +44 presents a closer relation to Blink 182’s final release, Untitled, than any other post-Blink project. Potty humour and fast-paced punk rock drumming has been replaced with steady and, at times, danceable beats, with a heavy dose of synth. The tone of the album is consistently upbeat, showcasing a variety of influences.
The lyrical content remains unabashedly centered around themes of young romance and love lost, with the exception of “No It Isn’t,” which reads like an obituary for Blink. Lines like “this isn’t just goodbye, this is I can’t stand you” suggest Tom and Mark won’t be going for strudel anytime soon.
While the right formula is there, it could use a little fine-tuning. Hoppus’s juvenile voice feels out of sync with the newfound maturity +44 is aspiring towards, and is also strangely lacking in the energy and enthusiasm that was present back in the Blink days. With that exception, Hoppus has succeeded in making an album that’s both catchy and hard to turn off. When your heart stops beating is the best non-Blink 182 release involving members of the now defunct four-piece to date.