With a Focus on Teen Travails, They're Up to Their Old Licks

* * * BLINK-182 "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" MCA

Despite its crass, juvenile jokes -- including the say-out-loud-to-get-it title of this new studio album (in stores Tuesday) -- the superstar punk-pop trio with the never-grow-up attitude accurately articulates the pain and absurdity of adolescence. Indeed, the horror-humor of its songs mirrors how blurred the lines are for young people dealing with a world they don't control.

Sure, these guys get a lot of mileage out of their established formulas but, hey, it worked for the Ramones. "Jacket" is sometimes thrashier than 1999's "Enema of the State," with more adventurous percussion and arrangements, but the vocal harmonies still soar. The tunes' familiar frameworks surround snapshots of desperate-to-silly teenage life, from the heart-wrenching fury of "Stay Together for the Kids" to the obscene "Happy Holidays."

One can argue that Blink-182 merely offers modern twists on rock's traditional misunderstood-youth stance, but the band captures these situations with more insight and skill than legions of like-minded peers.

Besides, given society's tendency to view youths as potential lunatics and murderers rather than semi-formed humans in need of loving attention, the plaintive-yet-defiant airing of teen travails in the spastically melodic "Anthem Part Two" feels terribly urgent.

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