Harder. Faster. Louder.
This seems to be the underlying mantra for Blink-182’s latest release NINE, presumably named after its chronological placement in the band’s discography (if you count 1994’s Buddha amongst them).
Now I’d love to be able to spew up an honest and unbiased opinion on NINE but alas, I cannot. Blink is a band that has helped shape the very fibres of my soul ever since they kickflip-backside-boardslid onto the commercial pop-punk scene in 1999 as a highly addictive gateway drug for millions of TRL-viewing backward cappers. But that’s enough about me.
NINE is harder, faster, and louder than not only the band’s most current release, California (2016), but also almost everything else Blink-182 has ever put out — not to mention anything else that is currently pulsing on pop-punk airwaves. Yet NINE is still distinctly and defiantly “Blink”.
From humble beginnings in San Diego to packed-out stadium tours across the globe, Blink-182 has become synonymous with breakneck tempos, astonishingly bang-stupid guitar hooks and revved-up teenage angst. In 2019, not much has changed. NINE is an ode to both the band’s colourful legacy as well as Millennial culture itself.
On first listen-through, stand-out cuts include “Black Rain”, “Darkside”, “Ransom”, “The First Time” and “Hungover You”. At this stage in the game, both Mark Hoppus and my all-time stick-wielding hero Travis Barker have truly honed and perfected their pop-punk proclivities, and it fucking shows, but what really blew my mind was how effortlessly second lead vocalist Matt Skiba has melded his vocal hooks into Blink’s post-Delonge era sound.
Another notable characteristic on NINE is the track duration across the board. There surely can’t be a track with a runtime longer than 2.5 minutes on the entire thing (save for the closer) and I get the feeling this was implemented intentionally to appease an audience with a rapidly diminishing attention span.
Still, it’s not just an album aimed at Millennials. As they themselves claim in their 50-second punk slapper “Generational Divide”, Blink-182 is not the generational divide. If anything they’re the bridge between Gen Millenn and Gen Z.
Overall, NINE is a triumph for contemporary pop-punk music, offering Blink fans both old and new exactly what they might want out of a Blink album: a damn good time, and then some. I (and I cannot stress this enough) could not recommend this album enough.
NINE drops on the 20th of September. Set your reminders now.