'When Your Heart Stops Beating' was the sole studio album of Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker's band +44. During Blink's 'indefinite hiatus' in 2005, Tom DeLonge busied himself with his band Angels & Airwaves, and Mark and Travis discussed continuing to write and perform together. With the future uncertain and tensions still high, +44 gradually came to life. The initial concept for +44 was to have an electronic sound, and the duo began experimenting with samples, drum machines and keyboards, recording either in Mark's dining room or Travis' basement. Despite this early electronic sound, the pair began to gravitate towards a more traditional rock sound, with the addition of lead guitarist Shane Gallagher of The Nervous Return and rhythm guitarist Craig Fairbaugh of Mercy Killers
Travis invited his friend Carol Heller from all-girl punk band Get The Girl to provide vocals on some tracks, and on the early demos vocals were shared between Mark and Carol. After Carol decided she needed to spend more time with family, the band bought their own studio from ex Poison guitarist Ritchie Kotzen, and 'When Your Heart Stops Beating' headed in an alternative rock direction with the help of long-time associate Jerry Finn in the role of executive producer.
From the opening bars of 'Lycanthrope', it’s clear the album has melodic rock leanings, and whilst the songs explore some dark themes, the general tone is upbeat. There are some occasional heavier elements of more traditional punk, akin to those on Blink's fifth studio album, but there's a mellower feel to the soft verse and explosive chorus formula, and their original electronic dynamic is a consistent undercurrent.
From the jangly guitar driven rock of 'Lillian' through the upbeat catchiness of 'Cliff Diving' to the dark fuzziness of 'Weatherman', When Your Heart Stops Beating is a brave step away from the pop/punk sound associated with Blink. It also highlights some of the changes that Tom's Box Car Racer album brought to the band's psyche as a whole, with Mark and Travis exploring different avenues of inspiration for +44 such as The Cure and The Postal Service, spawning an edgier sound. Mark stated later that whilst the lyrics were some of the most positive he'd written, they were also some of the most personal, and the darkest. The end of Blink-182 is clearly the inspiration for the album, with 'Little Death' and 'No, It Isn't' reflecting the betrayal felt after the band had come to an end.
When Your Heart Stops Beating was released in November 2006 and debuted at #10 on the Billboard charts, but was received with mixed feelings by critics who compared the album to Blink-182’s eponymously named fifth album, and to Tom's latest incarnation Angels & Airwaves. Nevertheless, +44 embarked on a world tour in support of the album, performing in the US, UK, Japan and Australia as well as on The Honda Civic Tour. Whilst there was talk of a second album, plans were shelved when Blink-182 reunited in 2009.
[poll qs="With Tom doing his own thing again, would you like to see +44 reform?" as1="Hell Yeah!" as2="Maybe, I'm not sure" as3="Not really..."]