Viking Wizard Eyes · September 20, 2019
The pop punk legends’ ninth full-length, aptly titled NINE, succeeds in following 2015’s California – their first with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba taking the place of Tom Delonge on guitar – as the band’s poppiest release yet. However, it fails to follow up that album’s success in that it lacks excitement from start to finish.
The album opens with “The First Time,” containing a drum riff that seems to be pulled straight from “Feeling This” — perhaps aiming to appease fans who wished for the ‘old’ Blink after California. While not the best song on the album, it is one of the more Blink-sounding tracks. It sets the mood for the rest of the record as Mark Hoppus sings, “First love, first high, there ain’t nothing like the first time,” having fun while still lamenting the good ol’ days before growing up.
Blink growing up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While missing their trademark rude lyrics and certainly becoming poppier, the album absolutely has high points. “Darkside” and “Pin the Grenade” both have the high-energy choruses that I was hoping for, with Travis Barker’s drumming once again setting him apart as one of the greatest in the genre. “Hungover You” is another track that sticks out.
The band has also matured in their lyrical content. Many of the songs are about relationships and breakups, but others go deeper. “Happy Days” deals with Hoppus’ mental health struggles, while “Heaven” was written about a mass shooting that took place in a bar near Barker’s California home. Far gone are the kind of lyrics that fans may remember from “Happy Holidays You Bastard.”
The most Blink 182-sounding songs are also the shortest; “Generational Divide” and “Ransom” each clock in at under two minutes. They seem to serve as a reminder that while the band is still who they once were, with crazy drum parts and intricate guitar lines, they’re maturing and becoming something new at the same time.
NINEasks for and deserves two listens: the first to get over the loss of a great band, and the second to find a new one. I would recommend giving it at least that.
Listen to NINE: