Blink-182’s “Nine”: Pop-Punk Grows Up

Blink 182 in concert at First Direct Arena, Leeds, in 2017. Photo by RMV/REX/Shutterstock (8907468g)

It’s 12 am and Blink-182’s “I Miss You” comes on at the bar. A group of friends, all in their early to mid-20s start singing along, reminiscing about those roller-coaster teenage years. This is what Blink-182 represents: a time in our lives when we still had acne, braces, and fluctuating self-esteem. We may have grown up since then but the bangers on their debut album are forever stuck in time. How does a band make up of 40-odd-year-olds go about creating a follow-up album to a record that is stuck in time?

Nine’s opening track envelopes that quintessentially 90s pop-punk sound. De Longe may have quit the band but Matt Skiba’s vocals share that emo whiny charm. The band has not stretched beyond their go-to power chords and so far, there doesn’t seem to be any development from Blink’s earlier albums.

It is when we listen to the lyrics that we realize that Blink-182 are all grown up. They no longer sing about wanting to get laid or how cool it is to get high. Instead, they reminisce about the times when these were the things they wanted to sing about. Skiba sings: “First love, first high, there ain’t nothing like the first time / Passed out last night, there ain’t nothing like the first time.” We are suddenly reminded of what it felt like to listen to “I Miss You” at a house party a decade ago and we feel a pang of pop-punk nostalgia.

But is Nine nothing more than a nostalgia album? Tracks like “On Some Emo S**t” make us think yes, and yet there are other tracks where the band show signs of development. “I Really Wish I Hated You” for example is a little more listener-friendly than their typical sound. Tracks like this suggest that Nine isn’t just an album for old fans, it’s an album which may invite a younger audience to check out the rest of their back catalog.

As always, the bulk of Nine is made up of catchy songs that trigger the angsty teen that resides in us all. Equally though, there’s a kind of self-awareness in the record which is amusingly relatable. Blink-182 are no longer just a teenage angst band. They are all grown-up and the chances are, you are too.