It’s here: the first album from the original trio since their reunion – rife with nostalgia and resolve.
In 2014, when Blink-182 announced the second departure of Tom DeLonge, could fans have anticipated the recruitment of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba? Could anyone have expected the success of that line-up’s studio efforts, 2016’s powerful California and its flooring follow-up, 2019’s Nine? Likely not.
And amid often bewildering extracurricular activities consisting of collaborations on singles, alien conspiracies, a Kardashian marriage and more, could anyone have foreseen it would take the 2021 cancer diagnosis of Mark Hoppus for he, DeLonge, and Travis Barker to let bygones be bygones and reform? No, they could not. Nevertheless, their differences are in the past, and friendships are renewed, cultivating Blink-182’s ninth studio album, One More Time.
Though ninth in their discography, this studio effort marks a significant number of firsts for Blink-182. Yes, it’s the first album to be released by the band’s best-known line-up in seven years, but One More Time is also the first of the outfit’s albums to be produced by Barker and the first time they’ve interpolated a song by The Cure, 1985’s Close To Me, earning frontman Robert Smith a songwriting credit on Fell In Love.
Led by single Edging, a return to true Blink-182 form in pop-punk sound and sexual innuendo in the title, the album hype has been significant since its official announcement just shy of a year ago.
That hype largely surrounded album cut Anthem Pt. 3, the next insertion in the Anthem saga. With Anthem appearing on the trio’s 1999 breakout album Enema Of The State, a sequel, Anthem Pt. 2, appeared on Take Off Your Pants And Jacket in 2001.
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Anthem Pt. 3 was teased by Barker last December, and now, with fans finally able to hear it on One More Time, the die-hard followers will certainly not be disappointed. With all the minerals to be one of the elite songs in Blink’s arsenal, Anthem Pt. 3 has the most vintage punk sound of any of the album’s tracks and features DeLonge heavily. There’s something almost victorious in hearing the reunion of his and Hoppus’ dual vocals on the song’s triumphant chorus – grin-inducing stuff.
The release sees the band leaving off the marriage of pop-punk and hip-hop-inspired production exhibited in its predecessor, instead levying a return to the California outfit’s more classic straightforward arrangements. Excellent a job as Skiba did in the absence of DeLonge – his vocal contributions particularly memorable for their effectiveness to the overall sound – it’s nonetheless refreshing to hear the undeniable signature sound that only this line-up can produce. It’s tight, it’s bold, it’s unapologetically Blink-182.
This is, in many ways, an album of reflection. In its theme and extending into its soundscape, each instrument is delivered with the unique character of its wielder, coming together in a uniform and nostalgic way. The album’s title track is a strikingly poignant moment, a moving acknowledgment of friendship. As Hoppus laments, “I wish they told us/It shouldn’t take a sickness/Or airplanes falling out the sky”, tones of bitterness and regret cloak the song, a solemness lilts in the melody, and Blink-182 have left no room for you to adopt the song for your own; this one’s for them.
There are other instances in One More Time of Blink-182 capturing lessons learnt, mistakes made, and regrets aptly left by the wayside as they embark on a new and refreshing chapter together. Album cuts You Don’t Know What You’ve Got – repurposed from a track, Terrified, by DeLonge and Barker’s former project Box Car Racer – and More Than You Know – a defiant rock banger that deals with Hoppus’ cancer – deliver sentiments like that of One More Time, only Blink have largely done away with such intensity of feeling in the song structure, opting instead to rely on their more traditional and identifiable punching duo vocals and rampant rhythms to readdress those particular themes.
It works; you’ve got the balance of living regret and resolution coupled with sonic nods to a time when the band was only ever about the music. And it sounds great – but in exploring their renewed friendship, does Blink sacrifice that optimum Blink sound for a deeper maturity? No, they do not.
In fact, Blink strikes a perfect balance. In spite of its unmistakeable sobriety, the classic boyish charm of Blink-182 still remains throughout One More Time, smatterings of shrieking vocals from DeLonge meeting Hoppus’ docile tone, as drummer Barker continues as the pillar that shapes the final sound.
While Blink-182 certainly capture the spirit of their recalcitrant youth, reliving those times in tracks that are on par with some of their biggest hits, it’s the resolve of their maturity, the conclusions drawn from life experiences and second chances that make One More Time a welcome return to form.
One More Time is out now via Columbia Records.