Tom Delonge – To the Stars… Demos, Odds and Ends (2015)

Tom Delonge’s debut album after his irritating break-up with Blink-182 was released, in what seems in a hurry, on April 21, 2015 and carries the name To the Stars… Demos, Odds and Ends.

The songs

To the Stars… Demos, Odds and Ends kicks off with the uptempo New World, a song typical of newer Blink-182 tunes and characterised by Tom’s melancholic harmonies and atmospheric sounds. In my humble opinion, one of Tom’s best compositions since Blink-182’s self-titled album.

An Endless Summer, track 2, starts with synthesisers that irritated me extremely. I thought it was something new that Tom wanted to try out, an actual electro song. Fortunately at 0:30 the actual rock song entered in, again, typical Tim Delonge manner. The synthesisers make complete sense during the song with the rock drum giving the beat and the crunchy rock bass sustaining the whole tune. In addition, the song continues in the same mood and feel that New World ended. A great song worth loving – if it were not for that unnecessary electro-intro! Guess what, I’m going to cut out that intro by myself, so I can really enjoy the tune. Bam!

Suburban Kings is the first ballad of the E.P.. The song brings down the pace and introduces even more atmospherical harmonies and, especially, sounds. I would go as far as comparing the song to I Miss You off the self-titled Blink-182 album, but with a bigger pinch of Angels & Airwaves in it.

The Invisible Parade introduces an acoustic guitar and is a voice & acoustic guitar solo-song. Rather unusual for a Blink-182 tune, but this is not a Blink-182 tune, right. What I meant by that is that the first three songs of the E.P. could have well been on a forthcoming Blink-182 album – which it can be assumed these were supposed to be songs for such a release.

Circle-Jerk-Pit, track 5, is a fast and brachial punk rock song worth of the Neighborhoods album. Nothing that blew me off my feet while listening to it here on a Swiss train, but I can imagine that live audiences would love to rock out to it.

Landscapes is an intermezzo characterised by atmospherical sounds and electronic drumbeats. Not a rock song, or a song per se, but cool nonetheless.

Animals, very untypical for a Blink-182 or even Angels and Airwaves song, is carried by an acoustic guitar riff or strum pattern and an interestingly produced drum beat. It continues with the atmospherical sounds of the previous song, Landscapes.

Golden Showers in the Golden State concludes the record with a perfect melancholic punk rock mood. The I-IV-V chord progression and the cliché lyrics might seem rather cheesy, but maybe Tom wanted to make a statement with this tune, since it might have been a Blink-182 demo at some point. Or maybe I’m just interpreting something in it.

In conclusion

I was surprised to learn that the record peaked relatively high in several US charts and even at #96 in the UK album charts. Not because the album wouldn’t be worthy of such success, but rather because it is a 25 minutes short, 8-song album that is said to encompass demos. Nevertheless, these so-called demos can easily pass as ‘real productions’ and the songs are good.

Nevertheless, it must be said that the record lacks a certain concept in regard to music. Having emo-punk songs, acoustic guitar songs, and atmospherical half-ballads following each other is musically too wide for me. All individual songs have their legitimacy by themselves, but not together in an overall concept. I know, some will say, ‘But this is a demo-record’ and I will reply by saying, ‘Still doesn’t make sense to me’.

Even though the record credits only two musicians playing all instruments, with Tom Delonge on lead vocals, guitars, and bass, and Ilan Rubin on drums, bass, and backing vocals, I enjoy the continuity in their musicianship. It offsets the lack of vision to a certain degree.

The lyrics of the opener, New World, can be assumed to shed some light into the Blink-182 break-up affair and are maybe the best written lyrics on the record alongside the words to Suburban Kings. The rest, as mentioned above, might be too cliché, which doesn’t mean they don’t work with the tunes at hand. All in all a good record for occasional entertainment – but nothing compared to the awesomeness of Blink-182’s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket or Angels & Airwaves A’s We Don’t Need to Whisper.

Album grade:
Lyrics 5/10
Musicianship 8/10
Production 9/10
Concept 4/10
Total grade 6.5/10

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer