Some artists stand out because of their ability to transcend the moment in music where they burst onto the scene. They continue to create music that pushes boundaries and conveys interesting ideas and experiences.
It’s incredibly disappointing to see the creators of the pop-punk classic, Enema of the State, essentially re-release a glossier version of the same sound. “NINE” may leave die-hard fans with some new tracks to enjoy, but it shows that blink-182 is incapable of evolving lyrically or musically.
Blink-182 receives due credit for being one of the first groups to effectively fuse punk and pop to create a new genre for angsty teens back in the ’90s and early 2000s. At their best, they combined a fresh, vibrant song with provocative lyrics that resonated with young audiences.
However, the group is now comprised of 40-year old men, and their sound has barely changed. It feels much less authentic to hear the group singing about the same themes, motifs and images as they did 20 years ago.
Lyrically, “NINE” covers familiar pop-punk territory with angsty lyrics about idealism, nostalgia for better times and breakups. Not only does the songwriting tread on played out pop-punk tropes, but tracks are littered with cliché lines that wouldn’t be out of place in a middle school poetry book.
The closing track, “Remember to Forget Me,” is the type of song that gives second-hand embarrassment to audiences at high school talent shows because of its cringey lyrics. Other pop-punk acts have shown the ability to mature lyrically as they age (Jeff Rosenstock is a prime example), but Blink-182 appears content to stick with what worked two decades ago.
Somehow, the sound of the album is even more stale than the songwriting. If you have ever heard a song by Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy or Blink-182, you have already heard about 75 percent of what this album has to offer. The opening track, “The First Time,” could easily be mistaken as a Yellowcard track, and the song “Blame it on my Youth” wouldn’t be out of place on a Fall Out Boy album from the early 2000s.
“Remember to Forget Me” sounds like something you would hear in your high school weight room about eight years ago. While Blink spends the majority of the album recreating their tired sound, there are a few tracks that unsuccessfully try to incorporate trap beats toward the end of the record. This idea could have worked had they not chosen unimaginative, stale beats.
“NINE” is an album that will hit the spot for some people. If you find yourself longing for the tracks of pop-punk’s infancy, or if you went through an emo-phase in middle school, this album might be able to deliver some nostalgia with a fresh coat of paint.
For those hoping Blink-182 would branch out, modify their old sound or try something completely new, this album is a complete disappointment. It feels a bit like an easy way for the group to cash in on name recognition while they still have it.
Blink-182’s “NINE” is nothing more than a hodge-podge of early 2000s’ pop-punk with mundane, trite lyrics. The group has lost the electricity they had when they were on the cutting edge of a movement, and now they seem content to crank out more of the same and watch the streams roll in.