On their ninth album Blink-182 are still pondering the riddle that’s always been at the center of their antic-filled career: “what’s my age again?” This time, the answer is pretty clear: old in life, but young at heart. The songs on One More Time are steeped in the sharp perspective of grown-ups who have gone through some shit and wonder how the hell they got where they are. After all, it’s been 12 years since they released an album with their founding lineup of bassist Mark Hoppus, drummer Travis Barker, and guitarist-vocalist Tom DeLonge.
The California pop-punk pioneers hark back to the thrashing sound of their most beloved albums, 1999’s Enema of the State and 2000’s Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, as they tackle death, existential crises, and DeLonge’s return to the band after a hiatus that began in 2015. One More Time offers the perfect opportunity to take one last stab at it all: the smart-ass attitude, the genre-defining music, and the rockstar dreams.
Right off the bat, album-opener “Anthem Part 3” scratches the nostalgic itch by calling back to Blink’s angsty 2001 tune “Anthem Part Two.” Over twinkling guitar chords and the staccato snap of Barker’s drums, DeLonge and Hoppus ferociously proclaim “I’m on fire” before vowing, “My old shit ends here tonight” — a mature declaration to set aside past fuck-ups and put old band drama in the rearview.
Hoppus’ recent battle with cancer is omnipresent on One More Time. The bassist was forced to face his own mortality, and so were his bandmates. The title track tugs at the heartstrings as the band’s poses tough questions: “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?/Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?,” DeLonge asks in a nasally timbre that’ll sound like an old high-school buddy to longtime fans. Similarly, on the rattling “You Don’t Know What You Got,” Blink sing about feeling grateful for their friends’ survival: “Long weeks of impending doom/Stuck in life’s waiting room.” Hoppus screams in the song’s explosive bridge, “I took you all for granted/You can write my epilogue.”
As always, Blink-182 are at their best when they are channeling punk-rock energy and wailing tongue-in-cheek couplets against choppy guitars and Barker’s driving rhythms. The action-packed “Turpentine” hits the mark and uses the band’s immature humor to unpack One More Time’s darker themes; as Barker booms at breakneck speed, the song details Hoppus’ depression during his cancer treatment, before ending with crude metaphors for giving up on life like, “dip your dick in Ovaltine” and “jack off to a magazine.”
Millennial listeners will be transported back to the early aughts on “When We Were Young,” an anthemic track that shares a name with the emo music festival in Las Vegas that Blink-182 are set to headline this month. Those fans will hear their own fears wailed back at them in lines like “Now everything sucks I’m out on my own.” But the salve is in the instantly recognizable Blink hook, which is sure to invoke a sing-along moment.
On the LP’s final track “Childhood,” Blink-182 slow it down as they meditate on the years past. Hoppus whines, “Where did our childhood go? I wanna know” over crashing drums and cinematic guitars. It stings to face reality: pop-punk’s favorite pranksters are finally ready to admit they’re not just older but wiser too.