In the laughably titled “Generational Divide,” Blink-182 front man Mark Hoppus sings “Is it better, is it better now? Are we better, are we better now?” about a failing relationship. It might as well be a desperate plea to the band’s weaning fanbase, because no, GOD no they are not better now. In fact, their latest album, “NINE,” is the worst album they’ve ever released and one of the most disappointing rock releases of the year.
“NINE” is the musical equivalent of staring into your friend’s eyes that once shone with the love of life and knowing there isn’t anything there anymore. Take any millisecond of a song from the band’s 1999 magnum opus “Enema of the State” and it will exude more passion than this entire project. The passion and emotion that filled in the gaps of Blink-182’s best works has been replaced by artificially generated slop-punk and it makes me feel horrible. One of the defining rock bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s should know to hang up their guitars before putting out 41 minutes of “5 Seconds of Summer” B-sides. With every worsening album, Blink-182 cuts deeper and deeper into their mantle as one of the kings of pop punk, and it’s absolutely disheartening.
“I don't care what you say, no / I don't care what you do/I'm goin' to the darkside with you / I'm goin' to the darkside with you” rings out the chorus on the worst song on the album, “Darkside.” Gone are the catchy yet sweet love songs like “All The Small Things” and “First Date.” Although the simplicity of the songs rings parallel, the raw emotion behind every rhyme, every chord and every crash has evaporated long ago. Rock is all about meaning behind power, and every song on “NINE” is as hollow as the band’s neon-laced name on the cover. Just like the lights on the front of this album, the passion behind the notes isn’t real.
Even the potentially hopeful parts of the album collapse into predictable disappointment. “On Some Emo Shit” begins with a familiar, held-back guitar intro akin to some of their best work, like 2001’s “Stay Together For The Kids.” Just as you start to forgive the unforgivable title and the previous 75% of the album, the tune falls behind a processed drum beat and you wonder why you got your hopes up in the first place.
On a technical scale, nothing in this album is inherently bad. The notes are played well, the singing is alright (Hoppus has never been the best singer anyways) and the songs are pieced together in okay ways. I can’t point to any part of this album and say “that’s not good” or “I don’t like this guitar pattern” and honestly, I wish I could. That would have been an easier review. Unfortunately, this album is something else — completely soulless.
The album ends with “Remember To Forget Me.” I’ll try.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @blink182 Instagram.
Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.