Blink-182 – ‘One More Time’

By Tom Walsh

There haven’t been many reunions that have been greeted with such fanfare as when images emerged of Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker back together again. A generation of millennials saw an opportunity to relive their adolescence one more time and three 40-somethings got to play the jester on stages across the globe one more time.

While we all pretended that Matt Skiba singing ‘Aliens Exist’ is something we wanted, it never sat right. That’s no slight on Skiba, he was an ample stand-in for a band that in hindsight probably should’ve taken another hiatus following DeLonge’s departure, but it’s just not blink-182 and his strengths lie better in the darkness of Alkaline Trio.

DeLonge’s return was treated as a prodigal son moment but a question loomed over any potential new material – would it be any good? We’ve already seen what a dysfunctional Blink can produce – the confused mess of 2011’s ‘Neighborhoods’ – and the final record of the Skiba era, 2019’s ‘Nine’, should never have made it out of the recording studio.

The first single ‘Edging’ didn’t help to dispel the nagging feeling that this wasn’t going to be as great as we had hoped. It’s a corny, bopping track with juvenile lyrics and a paint-by-numbers modern day pop punk chorus. If this was to be a taster of what was to come, it didn’t inspire confidence.

However, ‘One More Time’, Blink’s ninth full-length record, is a triumph. It’s everything that everyone who picked up their self-titled album back in 2003 would hope it to be. It’s dark, it’s fast, it’s (by blink-182 standards) mature and it’s an album that only a Tom, Mark and Travis blink-182 could produce.

From the opening riff of ‘Anthem Part 3’ (feeling nostalgic yet?) which flies straight into Travis’ signature ‘Enema of the State’-era double time drumming, it signals that the old Blink you’ve been waiting for all these years are back. DeLonge has left behind the half-arsed vocal performances that plagued ‘Neighborhoods’, and it’s just like it’s the year 2000 all over again.

But just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore Blink, DeLonge makes a masturbation joke heading into the punchy, nouveau pop punk anthem ‘Dance With Me’. It hits all the right sweet spots – it has an earworm of a guitar hook, it’s fast as a bolt and then the chorus’ ‘oles’ will ring around arenas across the globe for the coming years.

The trio lean into the nostalgia factor on this record but while previous efforts have made it sound like a bunch of old guys wishing they were 22 again – and writing to that effect – this is far more reflective. ‘When We Were Young’ is a celebration of their youth but also accepting that those days are in the past while the synth-heavy ‘Blink Wave’ is another tale of young love.

There are sombre moments such as ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got’, in which Hoppus details his battle with cancer. Reminiscent of ‘Adam’s Song’, it’s Hoppus’ incredibly personal and heartbreaking realisation that his life could be coming to an end. It’s summed up in the gut wrenching line – “this poison skin you can’t touch, go on without me my love”.

The acoustic title track sees DeLonge and Hoppus provide a frank, honest detail on the band’s relationship, it’s falling apart and how their wish is just do this all again “one more time”. It’s a beautiful tale of the importance of friendship and how they’ve neglected it at certain points. The delicate and poignant chorus of – “Do I have to die to hear you miss me? Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?” – really hits hard.

In tracks like ‘Terrified’ (a re-worked song originally intended for Box Car Racer), the absolutely thrashing ‘More Than You Know’ and ‘Turpentine’, you have some of the best punk rock songs Blink have written in years. And even in the little interludes (‘Turn This Off!’ and ‘Fuck Face’) they have their own little ode to the hardcore/skater punk scene that brought them to this world in just 30 second blasts.

In the build-up to their return, it felt a little unbelievable, that in an interview with the band, DJ Zane Lowe was eulogising how ‘One More Time’ is “the best album you’ve ever made”. However, while it may not reach the adoration levels of an ‘Enema of the State’ or ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ for fans, it is up there with some of the band’s best work.

It’s the sound of three best friends making the music they’ve wanted to make for years. It’s an emotional rollercoaster but it’s a hell of a ride. Lyrically it’s heartfelt, honest and at times brutal with a sprinkling of the cheekiness that makes Blink still Blink while musically it’s fast, hard and well thought out. There is minimal borrowing from other genres and where previous records have seemed confused, ‘One More Time’ couldn’t be more focused.

It not only stands up to the hardcore fans but it is a genuinely good punk rock record and one of the best the genre has seen in a while. After years of waiting and wondering whether we’d ever see the trio on the same stage together again, it feels so good to have the Tom, Mark and Travis Show back.

TOM WALSH

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