By Staff Writer Eric Sousa
After listening to Blink 182’s new album, Nine, I can assure the listener of three things. One, Travis Barker is still going bananas on the drums. Two, it’ll definitely remind you of old school Blink 182. Three, try as it might, this LP does not quite hit that nail on the head.
Several of the songs on Nine, such as “Darkside” and “Generational Divide,” sounded reminiscent of their old energy. However, a majority of the songs display brooding lyrics similar to past album, except without any of the heat that made past works special. Which makes sense; it’s tricky to draw on teen angst when you’re in your mid-30s.
The band has always had that 90’s era attitude; one of incredible stage chemistry, a refusal to take themselves seriously, and mass producing catchy hits like it was going out of style. The festivals where Blink 182 would lead the venues would sell out. They were legendary for their on-stage banter and stupid lyrically improvising ditties. In short—they were fun.
However, the band had a habit of taking breaks where the lead singer, Tom Delonge, would depart from the band. He would create music in a more personal project, such as Boxcar Racer and Angels & Airwaves. Eventually he would rejoin the band and the world would rejoice for another album (before they broke up again).
This last hiatus, which started in 2015, continues to this day. Tom decided to leave the band to pursue different interests, which has namely been proving the existence of aliens. While Blink 182 kept its name, they lost Tom. Matt Skiba, vocalist for Alkaline Trio, stood in Tom Delonge’s spot in the band. However, he never quite took his place.
Matt Skiba’s vocal range is more impressive than what Tom was able to bring to the band. This is apparent in many of the chorus hooks, such as the song “Happy Days” and “Run Away.” Having been a fan of Alkaline Trio, I was excited to see the synergy that Skiba’s inclusion would bring to the album. However, a majority of the songs handle themselves as inspirations from past hits.
The overall tone of Nine feels more serious than their earliest goofy albums, such as “Take off your Pants and Jacket.” Blink 182 originated as a band focused on hilarity and partying, which can be seen based solely on their third album name, “Enema of the State.” However, the band always had their more serious lyrical songs to balance out their goofiness.
As Blink 182 matured, the ratio between goofiness and seriousness evened out. With Nine, it feels as if the scale has tipped dramatically into seriousness. However, their 9th album feels almost disingenuous with the level of seriousness. Maybe it is the material; most of the songs, lyrics alone, reads like terrible love speeches written by a middle schooler. The songs feel like they’re written about a lifestyle the band is no longer familiar with.
Nine isn’t necessarily a bad album. Travis Barker shows off his exemplary skill on drums by creating unique rhythms for each and every song. Mark Hoppus and Matt Skib have pleasant vocal ranges. The riffs are tasty and simple enough to inspire kids to pick up the guitar and try it out. And I’m not going to lie; a few of them are dangerously catchy. It just gives the impression that they’re reliving glory days, like trying on an old band tee you haven’t worn since high school.
All in all, I would say the album is like Diet Pepsi; it’s bearable when mixed with hard liquor. As a comparison to the real deal, it falls a little flat. However, if an album tinted with nostalgia and easily digestible hits is your forte, then it’s the perfect road-trip album for you.