More about: Blink-182
If you could collate every single Blink-182 lyric in to one short, all-encompassing line, it might just be the opening phrase of new album NINE: “Hey kid, don’t quit your daydream yet.”
The camaraderie, mischief and brazen attitude that shot the band to mainstream fame in the late nineties is all but gone, with the final nail in the coffin being long-time bassist and founder Tom Delonge’s departure. The playful tones have been not-so-subtly replaced with an almost paternal nature, with the remaining members fulfilling their unspoken duty to raise the lost kids of this generation.
NINE is - rather intentionally - the band’s ninth release since their inception in 1992, despite being a new incarnation. Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba joined Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker to create a supergroup that would have only been dreamed about a decade ago, to create their two most recent endeavours.
The first track on the album, ‘First Time’ harks back to the cult classic and career defining ‘Feeling This’, with its modulating intro and signature Blink drums, arousing a warming sense of nostalgia. Moving into ‘Happy Days’ - the optimistic third single from the release - the album moves scarily into the realms of generic pop, losing all sight of any potential punk. If it weren’t for Hoppus’ distinguishable vocals, this track could be any slightly angsty Top 40 hit. The beauty of the track, however, lies in the source of the meaning, written when Hoppus was facing a bout of depression: “Hey kid, don't listen to your head, it only fills you with dread and with doubt, left lookin' for an easy way out.” A far cry from the poetic nuances of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’s ‘Fuck A Dog’.
‘Heaven’, ‘Darkside’ and ‘Blame It On My Youth’ continue in a similar vein, sounding freakishly as though somebody put every Blink song ever recorded in to an AI machine and programmed it to ‘2019’ - predictable, but enjoyable.
Coming in at a raucous 50 seconds, ‘Generational Divide’ is a short-lived highlight of the album, written after Hoppus had an argument with his son in the car on the way to school one morning. It’s a burst of more hardcore motivation sitting slightly uncomfortably among the rest of the slick, pop driven album.‘Run Away’ is - despite not being chosen as a single - perfect single material; anthemic, charmingly atmospheric and reflective of the album as a whole. It’s far from groundbreaking, but it is definitely satisfying.
Perhaps the most exciting track on the album, ‘Black Rain’ wouldn’t sound at all out of place on Good Charlotte’s Good Morning Revival - it’s jaunty, catchy and just a little bit dark. For a band of men who have been married for accumulatively 28 years, ‘I Really Wish I Hated You’ reeks of teenage rejection and broken-hearted pining. It’s self deprecating and love-life orientated - why change a writing formula that’s been working for over 20 years?
Listening to the album as a whole, it’s easy to deduce that the five chosen singles give the venture a bad name. Songs like ‘Pin The Grenade’, ’No Heart To Speak Of’ and ‘Remember To Forget Me’ are some of the trio’s most fulfilling and important releases since 2011’s Neighbourhoods, with some of Hoppus’ darkest and most intrusive, relatable lyrics to date. Despite having, ahem, run out of steam when it comes to creative album titles, Blink still have it in them to release a pleasant, melodic album that will definitely strike a chord with existing fans. Winning new fans over, however, doesn’t look incredibly likely.
NINE is released on 20 September 2019 via Columbia Records.
More about: Blink-182