blink-182’s big blunder with 'Nine'

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Friday, October 11th, 2019 at 10:58 AM
blink-182’s big blunder with 'Nine' by Evan Donovan

It feels strange reviewing a blink-182 album in 2019. Since 2003, the band has been on an unclear trajectory — from an indefinite hiatus to a lackluster reunion, and later the departure of founding band member Tom Delonge. It’s been two decades now since the pinnacle of their career, the release of 1999’s “Enema of the State.” At this point in the game, one might suspect Blink has lost touch with the younger generation. Despite these pessimistic pressures, they’ve decided to release a ninth studio album, aptly titled “Nine.”

To be perfectly blunt, “Nine” should not have been made. Most if not all of the songs on this record paint Blink as a band with completely unlikeable character qualities. “I Really Wish I Hated You” is an embarrassingly forced display of self-deprecation. “Black Rain” features unimpressive wallowing and 5th-grade level poetry from secondary singer Matt Skiba. “Tragedy erased my memory, and now all I feel is this black rain,” he cries under a thousand layers of incongruous vocal filters.

Even the better cuts on this album are weighed down by questionable stylistic decisions. The song “Heaven” has one of the best choruses on the album, but several factors prevent me from taking it seriously. The vocal production is inhuman in the worst way possible, making it hard to sympathize or even care about anything Blink says at all. This makes Skiba’s vocal lines often feel unintentionally silly or misplaced. On “Darkside,” he sounds like a melodically competent Google Translate, meanwhile indulging in obsessive fantasies about a girl who “doesn’t even know his name.” Nonetheless, “Darkside” is also one of the better tracks on this record. It’s energetic and endlessly catchy in spite of its flaws.

The remaining tracks are either worse or completely forgettable in comparison. “Runaway” is a half-baked rap-rock song reminiscent of Linkin Park. It features cheesy flows and some more lazy, whiny lyrics from singers Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba. The songs “Pin the Grenade” and “Hungover You” are decent pop-rock songs, but adequate background music at best. On “Generational Divide,” they try their hardest to sound like the darker, grittier Blink from 2003. I thought this song was tolerable for the most part. But then I realized Skiba’s melody is eerily similar to the nursery rhyme “Nana Nana Boo Boo, You Can’t Catch Me!”

If you weren’t a fan of Blink’s last release, 2016’s “California,” this album is not for you. “Nine” is a collection of generic pop-punk motifs that take themselves far too seriously. They have completely abandoned all humor and self-awareness for an artificial tortured-artist persona. It was bound to happen; 20 years is a long time for a band who found commercial success through a Backstreet Boys parody. Still, as a long-time fan, I wanted to give this record the benefit of the doubt. I found that the more I listened, the more I realized Blink was surely a thing of the past.

Rating: 3/10

Tags: music review

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