★★★☆☆
Three Stars

Since Neighborhoods, Blink-182 have broken with their record label to produce the Dogs Eating Dogs EP. Recorded together as a group rather than in separate studios, it promised a new, more inventive and collaborative sound. The opening of ‘When I Was Young’ has all the vibrant elasticity that might be expected from an EP produced in such fertile circumstances. The same is true of ‘Disaster’: both these songs take the experimental approach to the band’s pop punk roots that we first heard in the eponymous 2003 album, but with half the conviction. Although the way these songs start seem eclectic and interesting, the ideas are not carried throughout. The simplistic structures which take over seem to let down the bold introductions, making the music sound confused and unsure of itself.

It might be refreshing, even interesting to begin with, but the gentle acoustic introduction to ‘Boxing Day’ turns out to suit its needy tone perfectly. Downbeat, even edging on dull, this song has been done before – and they know it. DeLonge’s caustic SoCal drawl is the only thing which really makes the song sound any different from the consummately disposable versions produced in their thousands by armies of adolescent boybands.

Although perhaps not the most exciting on the disc, the final track, ‘Pretty Little Girl’, promises the most for the next full album. Here the reconciliation of the band’s older school pop punk and newer experimentalism is by far the most successful and the point of the track does seem, in some respects at least, clear and effective. Until Yelawolf’s surprise rap, the actual content of the song doesn’t seem that original, but at least it succeeds where most of its colleagues failed – really engaging with the listener by reworking older, well-known sounds into something fresher. It’s the rap that really makes this though. Just like with Robert Smith in ‘All of This’, the band move differently around each other and around the music. This more sensitive sound generates the kind tensions which make music interesting, and which suggest better things to come in 2013.