Familiar but somehow different – that is the feeling that greets the listener as they first hit play on ‘One More Time…’, the ninth studio album by blink-182.
It is familiar, of course, largely because it marks their first full length release with Tom DeLonge since 2011, his duelling vocals with Mark Hoppus, all backed by drum powerhouse Travis Barker, providing a comfort blanket, throwing you back to another era. Opening track ‘Anthem Part 3’ takes that one step further, channeling the previous instalment heard on ‘Take Off Your Pants And Jacket’. Yet, something has changed. The familiar and iconic opening riff has been twisted, made brighter, more hopeful, as if emerging from the other side of a period of darkness.
This in many ways sums up the record as a whole – this is blink-182, stronger than ever, taking all the elements of their storied career that you have loved over the years, and twisting them into new shapes and sizes across 17 tracks.
Recent single ‘Dance With Me’ follows, a clear successor to the fun, energetic sounds of ‘First Date’ or ‘The Rock Show’, complete with a singalong chorus that has already been delighting arenas. Other recent singles ‘Fell In Love’, ‘More Than You Know’ and the initial comeback track ‘Edging’ all continue this sense of glee – a party to celebrate the return of the Mark, Tom & Travis show.
‘Terrified’, meanwhile, brings in some of ‘Untitled’s emo and post-hardcore influences, while the ‘Turn This Off’ interlude is drenched in the kind of humour and banter synonymous with the ‘Enema Of The State’-era.
Yet, ever pushing forward, the trio do make moves into new musical territory too, with the appropriately titled ‘Blink Wave’ bringing 1980s synths into the mix. With the DeLonge-led chant chorus mirrored by the keyboards over driving guitars, it almost acts as a sonic midpoint between blink and Angels & Airwaves, thanks in part to the glossy production work of Aaron Rubin.
But the standout moments truly arrive when they address their journey head on, whether on the honest and sincere title track, complete with rare backing vocals from Barker, or ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got’, a Hoppus-led ballad in the vein of ‘Adam’s Song’, clearly documenting the health journey he has been on over the last few years as he refuses to be ‘stuck in life’s waiting room’.
Mark addressed this time in his life on stage in London recently, saying “There were days where I felt like I was dying, and days where I felt like I wanted to die… There were times where I didn’t know if I was going to be onstage again… The doctors cured my cancer, but I still felt really shitty and empty inside… This album, this tour, and all of you saved my life.” That pain and newfound sense of gratitude seeps through the lyrics and makes the song all the more heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measure.
Elsewhere, ’When We Were Young’, which surely must get its live debut when they headline the festival of the same name this month, looks back, misty-eyed on young love while the closing track ‘Childhood’ asks simply ‘where did our childhood go?’
It brings to mind what DeLonge himself said to Rock Sound back in 2021 on why blink continues to connect with generations of fans:
“I think the people connected to the reality of what we were. We all came from really disturbing, broken families…Our escape was really fast music, because we’re fucking pissed, but really funny and fucked up and offensive. Like nursery rhymes on meth. Because we just wanted to redo our childhood with a bit of rebellion. You’re the painter, not viewing what someone else has painted for you.”
The very essence of the band lies in this origin story and, in staying true to these initial aims and beginnings even now, they have rediscovered just what makes the band so special.
In the months since it was initially announced, DeLonge has been quoted as saying that it would be the band’s best album yet. While fans will always have their own personal favourites that they hold close to their heart, it is fair to say that ‘One More Time…’ is a pretty perfect encapsulation of everything the band has been up to this point. As Mark sings on ‘Childhood’, ‘Why is everyone afraid to be themselves not imitate?’ In ‘One More Time…’, they can proudly declare that they have produced the most quintessentially blink-182 album they have ever made.
‘One More Time…’ is out now via Columbia Records.