Just How Good is the New Blink-182 Album?

It’s finally happened. After three long years of waiting, everybody’s favorite pop punk band has released a new album. I personally jumped out of my desk chair when I got the notification from Spotify. I immediately started streaming the new release. I gave it a good listen while I did homework, then I listened again and again. To be honest, I’ve been binging on Blink-182 music new and old all weekend. So how does NINE stack up to old favorites?

Compared to California (2016)

California is my least favorite album from Blink-182 by a long shot. It isn’t a bad album, it just doesn’t sound like the Blink-182 that I love. Unfortunately for me, some of the songs on NINE sound similar to the band’s last album. However, the good news is that even the songs that mirror those on California sound different enough that the album has a completely different vibe. The instrumentals featured on NINE enhance the emotions in the songs. I’m not here to review California, but it’s important to note that California is the album that signaled a shift in Blink’s music stylistically, which is why I wanted to compare the two. “Bored to Death” was one of the only songs on California that sounded remotely similar to the Blink-182 that I grew up listening to. While it was borderline overplayed, it was the only song worth listening to on the entire album. The whole NINE album mirrors the style of “Bored to Death” well. The songs are catchy, emotional and feature heavy background instrumentals that don’t rely on the lyrics to deliver the point of the song to the listener.

NINE isn’t a complete departure from California, but it does successfully incorporate Blink-182’s signature style from the early 2000s within the more modern production and composition style. The newest addition to Blink-182’s discography is a much better version of its predecessor.

Compared to Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)/Enema of the State (1999)

For me, these are the two albums that really encompass the band’s best sound. When I think of Blink-182, the first songs that pop into my head are from these two releases. The instrumentals behind the vocals pump me up and I feel like I can conquer the day. Fun fact: I had my alarm tone set to “All the Small Things” for quite a long time in high school. They are fast paced, angry and loud. The lyrics and vocals mirror those emotions and go a step further in a way that I can’t fully describe. Listening to Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and Enema of the State is spiritual (and nostalgic) for me.

Albums shouldn’t sound identical, especially when 20 years separates them, but to me a band’s sound is very important, it’s the whole reason why I listen to them. NINE doesn’t sound exactly like those albums, but it does come close. It’s an amazing homage to their biggest hits while still evolving their sound to appeal to a new generation of listeners.

The best songs

The best songs on this album are stand-outs. I heard them and I knew that they were my favorites. I think I love these songs so much because they feel like the Blink-182 from the 2000s without being carbon copies of old music.

So, what are my top three songs from NINE? The first of the three is “Generational Divide.” This the shortest track on the album clocking in at 49 seconds. Those 49 seconds are mostly filled with angry drums. There is one short verse that splits into what sounds like two sets of vocals overlaid on top of each other. They aren’t synced, and the lyrics aren’t the same between the two vocal sets. This track lives up to its name and sounds like how a divide feels and looks.

The second is “Remember to Forget Me,” the last track on the album. This is a relatively slow song, and if I had to choose a song that sounds similar from a different album, I would have to say “Adam’s Song.” Both have very similar lyrical themes. Despite the similarities, “Remember to Forget Me” is much slower than “Adam’s Song” and doesn’t feature the same type of happy revelation at the end. It exudes heartbreak and sadness. Even if you were to listen without the lyrics, the drums and guitar work together to create that sad ambiance.

My personal favorite and nomination for best song on the album goes to “I Really Wish I Hated You.” The lyrics of this song radiate teen angst. Anger, sadness, regret and wanting someone you can’t have are all feelings that bombard you while listening. I like this song the most because it does a great job of using the vocal elements to create a sound similar to older songs while still sounding new and polished thanks to the instrumentals.

The worst song

It’s actually hard for me to pick a song to fill the slot of “worst” from NINE. I don’t think any of the songs are horrible. I think most of the songs hover around the same style and quality, and I was able to pick the “best” songs because they stood out from the rest. To me, there isn’t any one song that is significantly worse than the others. The song on the album that I like the least is probably “Hungover You,” by a small margin from the others. I think “Hungover You” sounds the least like Blink-182. If I weren’t listening to the song directly from the album, I wouldn’t know that it was a Blink-182 song. My biggest issues with “Hungover You” is that it sounds like the recent generic, angry pop punk songs that I typically avoid listening to. However, it is catchy and will probably be stuck in my head for the next few days.

Even though I named “Hungover You” as my least favorite/the worst song on the album, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad song. It’s just not as good as the rest of the album.

Overall

My first time listening to the album I loved every second of it. After a few more times through, the novelty of new music wore off and I was able to actually dissect the songs and the album itself. I would rate the album four out of five stars. I think that NINE does a great job of having a song for everyone. Newer fans of Blink-182 who started listening after California dropped will probably like their newest album more than veteran listeners. That being said, Blink didn’t forget about their core fan base, and did an awesome job incorporating their old ways into their new style. NINE is a definite must-listen for any Blink-182 fan, new or old.