On Sept. 20, 2019, the American punk-rock band Blink-182 released their ninth studio album, entitled “NINE.” This album is the second the band has released since front man Tom DeLonge’s departure in 2015. Blink 182 is currently composed of original members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker as well as newer addition Matt Skiba.
The album starts out with strong instrumentals on tracks like “The First Time” and “Happy Days,” but the songs are lacking in the lyrical department. I struggled to find any original thoughts or concepts in the lyrics. “Happy Days” comes across like a watered down version of “I Wanna Get Better” by Bleachers.
“Heaven” is one of my personal favorite tracks on the album. It features flashing instrumentals and lyrics that give me nostalgia for my middle school days spent only listening to emo bands. Matt Skiba’s vocals on this track are some of the strongest on “NINE.”
Despite its title, “Darkside” has upbeat vibes. The track sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a coming-of-age teenage film, making it a good pick for the first single of the album. However I do not find it to be a stand-out single compared to other things that are currently on alternative radio stations.
The 49 second long “Generational Divide” serves no real purpose, but features excellent drum work from Barker, which carries over into a subsequent track, “Black Rain.”
“I Really Wish I Hated You” has some redeeming qualities and makes for another decent single. However it seems to have been tailored for pop radio. Blink has always referred to themselves as a “pop-punk” band, and this album plays to the formulaic “pop-punk” sound that has become popular in the last five years. I attribute much of this sound to song writer and producer, John Feldmann.
Feldmann, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Goldfinger, has worked with many of the bands in the current Warped Tour style alternative rock scene. I can always spot a song that Feldmann has worked on because they all have similar lyrical tropes and feature a guitar sound that feels glazed over by auto-tune.
Tracks such as “No Heart to Speak of” and “Hungover You” are drenched in Feldmann’s influence, and to no surprise both tracks were co-written and produced by him.
“Ransom,” is the most intriguing song on the album and features the most interesting lyrics. The final track, “Remember to Forget Me,” while forgettable, is a good closing song.
Throughout the album the instrumentation, especially Barker’s drumming, is strong. Hoppus and Skiba have great vocal chemistry, making the trio still feel unified as a band. While Blink-182 has never been known for their profound lyrics, the lack of originality paired with the Feldmann production makes this album go in one ear and right out the other. While not bad, it is far from Blink’s best work.