Blink 182

Nine

Written by: PP on 05/01/2020 15:32:14

"Nine" isn't the ninth full-length album by Blink 182, but they elected to include the 1994 demo "Buddha" in the count so here we are. It's the second album to feature Alkaline Trio vocalist Matt Skiba on guitar/vocals after the relatively nondescript 2016 album "California". It's always difficult to replace a vocalist in a band, let alone one as iconic as Tom DeLonge, no matter how capable pipes the replacement might have, so that's why "California" felt more like a bridge album or a practice run than anything else, and why "Nine" feels like the first proper album featuring Matt Skiba where he has been involved as an equal in the songwriting process.

The resulting record is one that might surprise Blink 182 fans. The lyrical content is darker and heavier, dealing on emotional topics of depression and love to a much more depth-laden extent than we're used to from them. But that's a minor change in comparison to the stylistic shift the band has undergone here. We're now knee-deep in the dreamy, electronically-infused alternative rock world of +44 and perhaps even Boxcar Racer to an extent. The melodies are clean and laid-back, relying less on pop punk hooks and fast tempo and more on atmospherics and melancholic hollers on the background. Take a song like "Hungover You" or even "Darkside" and put it next to something off 2001's "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket" or even 2011's "Neighborhoods", and you'd be hard-pressed to believe it's the same band.

It sounds totally different. Perhaps that is why the band opted to include "Generational Divide" on the record, a 49-second noisy punk rock banger where Hoppus is repeatedly shouting "is it better.... is it better now?", almost as if he was asking his fanbase if this is really what we wanted? It's an interesting twist compared to something like "Heaven" or even "Blame It On My Youth", which are all about the melancholic atmosphere, lofty production and Skiba's signature-style higher-pitch howls at the top-range of the soundscape. The other 'token' punk song on the record "Ransom" ends up being one of the best on the record, so maybe the answer to that question really is "yes, yes it is" at least in some ears.

For the more traditional Blink fans, "The First Time" is one of the only songs that really echoes the "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket"-era, while the vast majority of the record sounds like a blend of +44 and Alkaline Trio. It's different and pretty good in its own right, though never touches the best material by any of the three bands involved here.

8

Download: Heaven, The First Time, Pin The Grenade, Ransom
For the fans of: +44, Boxcar Racer, Alkaline Trio
Listen: Facebook

Release date 20.09.2019
Columbia

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