Pop punk music of the 90’s and early 00’s shaped the adolescent experience we all thought we’d have. Teenage years are filled with angst and uncertainty about one’s identity and with age, many of these frustrations seem easily dismissible as childlike. But in truth, they are just as relevant later in life as they are while growing up. Nine by Blink-182 is an album that celebrates this idea, as it embraces the adolescent disorientation for which the band is well known and takes it out of a teenage-specific experience.
Blink-182 has been in a transitory stage for a while after Tom DeLonge left and was replaced by Matt Skiba in 2015. Since then, Blink has struggled to find its footing. Nine marks a great next era for the band as it manages a balance between classic sounds that define the band and the progressing music scene.
The album’s singles, released in the months leading up to the album’s release, were not well received by fans and continue to be the weakest tracks on the album. “Darkside,” “Blame it on my Youth,” and “I Really Wish I Hated You” tie in lyrically with much of the themes from the album, but don’t match up to the quality of the other songs. “The First Time,” “Black Rain,” and “Remember To Forget Me,” on the other hand, all uniquely exemplify the new sounds and ideas present on Nine. These tracks are deeply nostalgic with heavy reflections about moving forward from youth and the struggles that come from this. Along with the struggles surrounding personal progression, much of the album’s content also reflects on a larger cultural distress which stems from current world events.
Nine holds a maturity that is lacking from much of Blink’s previous works. While much of the angst in their earlier music is attributed to impulsions of youth, Nine makes it clear that this isn’t the case. A childhood spent not fitting into the perceived mainstream can have lifelong impacts, such as serious mental health issues. The bleak truth about growing up is that just like how individuals don’t completely change character with age, perceptions of the world evolve but maintain the same core messages that were expressed for a long time.
Today’s youth are very active in key political and social issues. Blink is well known for writing angsty teenage songs about how there’s a lot wrong with the culture we live in. Much of today’s youth activism comes from this gross unhappiness about current social and political power dynamics. Nine doesn’t express any new ideas regarding societal unrest, but instead of blaming a ‘society’ that can’t be pinpointed, the blame is on tangible things that we can understand. Mental health issues and lack of competence from our leaders are things that as a wider society, we agree are plaguing our culture and need to be addressed. Nine challenges the idea that teenage angst is a fleeting thing and tells us that it is important. The album also reminds us not to get too wrapped up in the angst of our youth, and to focus on the exciting new experiences that we are a part of during that time in our lives.
Nine introduces us to a new Blink-182. The album tells us not only a lot about the new era for the band, but also a new era for those of us struggling to find our grounding as we grow up while keeping our core values and experiences. Sometimes, coming of age isn’t an isolated experience, but rather a lifelong experience – and Nine tells us how valuable that is.
Written by By Zahra Faiz