With NINE, blink-182 show their creative decline has no sign of slowing as they move further and further from the qualities that made them so lovable in the early 2000s.
It has been 20 years since the band released their album Enema Of The State. As they exploded in popularity, the band became a pop punk powerhouse bringing a much needed element of humour to punk music. In the time since then, guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge left the band to follow his passion of UFO hunting and quite frankly, he’s having more success with that than blink had on this album.
"The album is packed with melodramatic songs that are incredibly difficult to take seriously."
On NINE, this carefree and fun attitude is nowhere to be seen; the album is packed with melodramatic songs that are incredibly difficult to take seriously. Producer John Feldmann returns and the over-sanitized production issues that plagued their 2016 release California rear their heads again, leaving the whole album feeling too clean with very little life to it. The bizarre choice to include an 808-style bassline on Run Away shows an obvious intent to appear more mainstream and current, however it sounds incredibly out of place. Credit must given for blink-182 experimenting with new sounds and I wish they’d explored more avenues as the rest of the tracks are very bland, begging the question: how has Mark Hoppus not got bored of writing the same song over and over?
The songs all have a very serious tone to them and there is no humour throughout, which is where blink's main talents lie. Without the levity the album is a slog to listen to, as pop anthem after pop anthem come and go, each with sappier, cringier lyrics. It’s difficult to imagine Hoppus and Skiba having any sincerity when singing about how they’re going to “the darkside”, whatever the darkside is for a man aged 47. The whole album is filled with corny lyrics that feel as if Hoppus dug them out of his diary from when he was 13. Some of the songs do have quite catchy choruses, namely Blame It On My Youth, however these feel more like stadium rock songs than pop punk. Travis Barker as usual plays incredibly as he attempts to add some sort of individuality to these dull, uninspired tracks, but Hoppus and Skiba rarely have a moment to shine. I struggle now to recall a single memorable guitar lead or bass line on any of the tracks.
Whilst this album contains some well written catchy songs, blink-182’s identity as a pop punk band feels completely lost and they may have to return to their roots in order to improve their next release.