Boxcar Racer

With S.T.U.N. Monday, December 16, at the Agora Theatre.

Firefly 16725 Chillicothe Road, Bainbridge Township 440-543-5115. Hours, Monday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4 to 8:30 p.m.
"We still write songs about fucking pigs and dogs, but that's just something we do on the side," Blink-182 singer-guitarist Tom Delonge told us around this time last year. "I think 90 percent of what we do is serious."

Indeed, the title of Blink's last one, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, was about the only thing cheeky on an almost overly sincere album. Yeah, Blink turned in the requisite gross-out anthem -- this one about Grandpa crapping his pants -- but overall, the disc was a sobering affair fueled by heartbreak, insecurity, and broken homes.

All of which makes Delonge's solid-selling side project, Boxcar Racer, somewhat questionable. The band was born as a more serious, straightfaced outlet for Delonge, who needed a break from Blink's tomfoolery. The caveat: Blink was already headed in that direction, and thus much of what makes up Boxcar's self-titled debut -- released in May -- would sound right at home on a Blink album. The only real difference is that Delonge doesn't have cohort Mark Hoppus to help him out on the choruses or alternate vocal chores -- one of the things that keeps Blink interesting.

Delonge did bring along drummer Travis Barker, who adds some hip-hop beats and minor electronica flourishes, which, along with a somewhat darker tone, help to distinguish Boxcar Racer. But overall, the band sounds like Blink with a missing piece of the puzzle.

That doesn't make the band completely negligible, of course. Boxcar's debut is a more-than-competent affair with some decent hardcore moments, and it'll be a thrill to see Delonge and Barker outside of the arenas. Still, what's made Delonge a millionaire is his ability to sound equally earnest whether singing about divorce or diarrhea. Blink has always tempered sadness with a little smile, but with Boxcar, the main folks grinning are these dudes' accountants.

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