Blink-182’s second album with the lineup of Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, and Matt Skiba is the appropriately titled NINE. It follows up the terrific California and in quality of content – it tops it. Hoppus has always been somewhat of a creative maven but working with Skiba has really invigorated his creative abilities to the level where they haven’t really been before. This album is filled with catchy choruses, intelligent lyrics, catchy melodies, cool harmonies, tremendous instrumentation, and overall just great music.
Blink influenced a whole era of pop punk with Enema of the State and then they did it again with their self-titled album. California was the closest that the band had gotten to either of those albums in terms of quality, that is before the release of Nine. There’s a lot here that’s interesting musically. Some of the programming used with the production, the lyrics on songs like “No Heart to Speak Of”, “Pin the Grenade”, and “Happy Days” are all sincere and intelligent, the drum parts from Barker are predictably exceptional… What’s really interesting with the record is that the production doesn’t quite hold the personality that it did with the last album. That’s good and bad. It’s good because it lets the songs do most of the work, it’s bad because California’s production elements really added a layer to the sound of Blink that we hadn’t heard before.
An interesting side note with this record is that this doesn’t sound like Blink playing with Matt Skiba anymore. It sounds like blink-182. That’s probably due to the band gelling, Skiba’s style changing after playing Blink songs for the past 4-5 years, and listeners just getting used to him in the band. That said, few musicians play with as much personality as Skiba, so it’s interesting to hear that shift a bit and have him mold into a unit that isn’t Alkaline Trio.
Nine is great. Not sure what else you can say about it. The three current members have clicked to create something that’s special in this era of music. This is the best album that this version of blink could have thrown together. They put together something that’s worthy of their fanbase. Great record.