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Courtesy of Columbia Records

September 27, 2019

TEST SPIN | Blink-182 — ‘Nine’

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The ’90s are back. This time, with a darker twist and a slightly more electronic beat blended into the classic pop-punk sound of Blink-182 for their new album, Nine. The album, which holds on to strains of their same nostalgic sound of the last 20 years, tackles some new challenges in this 15 track project.

Released on Sept. 20, Blink-182’s ninth album continues the band’s trend of increasingly mature lyrics, drawing influence from darker emotions instead of from the more immature humor their earlier albums are best known for. Although the band members may have begun to shed their Peter Pan syndrome, the album maintains a strong dose of teenage angst consistent throughout their earlier work with songs like “Darkside” and “Blame it on My Youth.”

Still ever-present is Travis Barker’s incredible skill on the drums, as he shows off his considerable talents to bring out Blink-182’s traditional sound. From “The First Time” all the way to “Remember to Forget Me,” Barker keeps up his rapid-fire pace consistent with earlier albums, although with a more distinctively pop twist than ever before. While their usual pop punk sound is still clear under it all, the band has opted this time to add another layer of catchy synth-pop to their sadder breakup songs. Some of their new sound may have come from the influence of All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth in the wake of his new collab project Simple Creatures with Mark Hoppus, considering that songs like “Runaway” sound like they could have come off of All Time Low’s 2015 album Future Hearts. 

Despite its upbeat tempo and bouncing drum beats, the album deals with themes of depression, anxiety, break-ups and general loss. “Heaven” in particular tackles the shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with lyrics “Make a wish that you’ll get a chance to say goodbye / Before the shots ring out in the dead of night.” This is a bit of a far cry from the childish lyrics of “Family Reunion” (The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show).

With the heavier themes come heavier lyrics, drifting from Blink-182’s typical fare. This shift seems to have presented some challenges for Blink-182 in the writing department; for a band usually known for their humorous and clever lyrics, this album is somewhat lacking. The choruses of several songs on this album (see “Heaven” and “I Really Wish I Hated You,” among others) are extraordinarily repetitive. In addition, despite the darker themes, many of the lyrics lack that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that plucks at the heart strings and allows the listener to connect with the song itself. Instead of diving deeper, the vague references to feeling “lost” and ever-present “demons” fall short of Blink-182’s usual standard of pop punk anthems.

When all is said and done, almost anything Blink-182 puts out will be pretty good; the band has two decades of experience in the music industry, spending most of that time at the top of the charts. However, in comparison to their earlier work lyrically, Nine falls short. Yes, this is still decent pop punk, but their new, more mature content has not taken them to the level that it should have.

 

Carolyn Hale is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at cjh287@cornell.edu.