One year later
After many turbulent years, blink-182 released their newest album Nine, on September 20, 2019. It wasn’t easy for Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Matt Skiba. After California in 2016, the fans were skeptical of the new direction the band was heading. The song “Blame It On My Youth” was the first song released, and people were still skeptical; the song contains more pop than punk influences. In a smart move, blink-182 next released “Generational Divide.” A short, fast-paced song that is punk through and through. Lines like “Are we better now?” seem to be directed directly to those critical voices and managed to shut them up. But how did the album in its entirety hold up a year later?
First up, “The First Time,” a song that shows a mature blink-182, but yet they keep their youthful spirits. Matt Skiba and Mark Hoppus share the vocals on this song, and both give their all to show the fans, “There ain’t nothing like the first time.” The first times just hit a little different than any other time. While most other song feature Matt Skiba’s vocals, “Happy Days” is just Hoppus. A longing for better, happier times makes the song almost too real. Now in 2020, the song’s video was nominated for a VMA. The video featured fans doing their best during Quarantine; this song, unknowingly, has the potential to be the anthem of this pandemic, when pretty much everyone longs for some “Happy Days.”
Knowing to be a non-political band, which means they don’t make political songs, the next song could be interpreted as one. “Heaven” hits hard, with the potential to be a tearjerker. In 2018, a mass shooting occurred only two miles away from drummer Travis Barker’s home. The shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks costs 12 lives. Knowing the sad reality of the song takes it to another level. Skiba’s line, “Make a wish that you’ll get a chance to say goodbye/ Before the shots ring out in the dead of night” is gut-wrenching.
The next track might help to take a breather. “Darkside” is mainly focused on Skiba’s vocals, and he gives everything. The song is catchy and so easy to scream along to in the car. Even a year later, that song doesn’t get old. “Blame It On My Youth” can barely keep it up with the previous track, but features another catchy chorus. “Generational Divide” and the good old question “Are we better now?” Safe to say, yes, it is better now. “Run Away” is dark and gloomy, maybe an influence of Skiba, who is known for being a little more gothic than the rest of the band. It is to say, the song does remind listeners of the Untitled album, which is famous for being dark and emo-like. Maybe this fits even for the next song, “Black Rain.” Skiba’s vocals start off the song; they seem lost and hopeless, but when Hoppus takes over, the song wins on speed, and the typical drums of Barker match perfectly.
A classical dilemma awaits the listener with “I Really Wish I Hated You.” Love/hate relationships are way too real and so brilliantly expressed in the song. “Pin The Grenade” has these typical blink-182 vibes. It’s fast and slow in just the right places. The drums are the cherry on top. The only thing missing on the album so far is the “na na na’s.”
Coming to an absolute highlight on the album, “No Heart To Speak Of.” Mainly focused on Skiba’s vocals, there is just one thought that comes to mind, the passion in the vocals are a blessing for the album. Skiba just went there, reaching deep inside and letting it all out. The next track, “Ransom,” has a certain surprise factor. It starts slow and then all of a sudden, the song explodes in a fast rhythm and hard beats. “On Some Emo Shit” is probably the best song title on the entire album. “Hungover You” and “Remember To Forget Me” are the last to songs, but they are certainly highlights on the album. Both songs overflow with emotions, very different, but just so raw, it is hard not to love these songs.
Nine shows how much blink-182 grew, musically and lyrically. The songs have depth, and some are catchy and fun like the fans know blink-182 to be. Even a year later, the album hasn’t lost its magic.