Blink-182 - NINE (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


NINE (2019)


It was pretty interesting going into Riot Fest and hearing (well, trying to because the sound system sounded off as fuck that night) Blink 182 play Enema of the State in full that night, along with jams like "Dammit". These songs are remarkably poorly-written, immature bangers that somehow remain timeless, which made it all the more intriguing to me that their ninth album -- yes, they're counting Buddha -- was sitting on my mind all the while as probably their most divisive to date.

Honestly, after listening to it for quite some time, Nine feels like the band should change its name and move past the days of Alien Tom (hey, he's actually right with the UFO crap, as per CNN) and chart a new identity with Matt Skiba, because essentially this just doesn't feel like a Blink record. It's not a bad thing, because change can be good, but here, this is product, not art, packaged for mainstream and commercial success with a lack of heart, soul and creativity -- which no matter what, old Blink had. Quite a few of the songs are unimaginative and uninspired, although I do commend some attempt by Mark Hoppus to tread waters with darker lyrics and themes of depression and substance abuse. There are songs about politics and borders, not to mention school shootings in "Heaven" and broken faith in the Alphaville-like "Black Rain" but again these messages are all caked in cookie-cutter rhythms and melodies that feel so repetitive and fake.

The cheesy '90s comes in off the bat on the opener in "The First Time" and at this point, you're thinking Skiba will probably do well to bring something out like the good parts in California too, but by the time "Happy Days" rolls around, it sounds an awful lot like a bad sequel to "Stay Together For the Kids" and leaves you wondering how bad things could get. Well, the fact this record wastes Travis Barker's drumming apart from aggressive skate punk songs like "Generational Divide" and "Ransom" shows Blink isn't that interested in pop-punk again, but more pop. These songs in particular feel like the same riffs and drums BTW and offer the only spark in a drab record that never really inspired punk optimism from the time news broke Pharrell was approached for a more modern sound, as Hoppus felt they were making the same old punk jams of old. I mean, the electronic beats and tracks like "Darkside" all connect to Steve Aoki (who is featured on the record), All Time Low (which makes sense given Hoppus' connection to its lead singer in Simple Creatures), and just about anything acts like twentyOne Pilots would produce. Catchy? Sure. Filled with purposeful hooks? Not really.

All we get a carbon copy choruses forcing singalongs and you can tell the band's going through the motion, even the heavily-auto-tuned Skiba. Ultimately, some of the songs could have been shorter for a punchier sound such as "Run Away" but don't get me wrong, you'll find some guilty pleasures here you could have fun with. I think I'd prefer to hear a different direction with some skate-punk songs a la Wilhelm Scream and something with a bit more fire and kick to it. That's just me, but then again, I've learned with Blink, expectations lead to disasters. And as of the content on this album, well, the less you expect, the better. A few songs impress but the majority is meant to fill radio stations and leave you wondering where the magic this band held went. Probably outer space...