Blink-182 has a history of reuniting under dire circumstances, and their latest album, “One More Time,” is a testament to the enduring power of the trio’s bond. The band’s hiatus ended in 2008 after drummer Travis Barker narrowly survived a plane crash, but their comeback was accompanied by a period of creative turbulence. After seven years and less-than-stellar releases like “Neighborhoods” and “Dogs Eating Dogs,” the friction within the group was palpable.
In 2015, Tom DeLonge left the band once again, albeit with claims that he never intended to quit. After some legal wrangling, Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio stepped in to fill the vacant singer-guitarist role, resulting in albums like the angst-driven “California” (2016) and the experimental “Nine” (2019). The threat of tragedy struck once more when bassist Mark Hoppus was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma, rekindling the Mark, Tom, and Travis Show. Their reunion tour has been met with great enthusiasm.
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The album reflects upon the unfortunate reasons that led to their reunion. Lyrics like “I wish they’d told us / It shouldn’t take a sickness / Or airplanes falling from the sky,” on the wistful acoustic title track, voiced by Hoppus, and DeLonge’s heart-wrenching question, “Do I have to die to make you miss me?” illustrate the emotional depth of this record.
The album brims with gooey nostalgia on tracks like the sunny “When We Were Young” and the appropriately sweet “Fell In Love.” The latter may be Blink’s most mature love song, while “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” elegantly balances the dread of “long weeks of impending doom / Stuck in life’s waiting room” with a jubilant chorus that captures the joy of seeing life through fresh eyes. The sentimentality throughout the album is charming rather than saccharine, encapsulating the simple joy the band finds in being back in the same room, rocking out together.
Sonically, One More Time represents a full-circle moment for the band. While Matt Skiba’s presence pushed Blink-182’s sound in new directions, the return of DeLonge heralds a return to the pop-punk sound reminiscent of their earlier days. The album has moments of glory, such as “Dance With Me,” with its irresistibly catchy hook, and the opening track, “Anthem Part 3,” which bursts in with a triumphant wall of sound, displaying the band’s victory in their return.
However, the album might be criticized for lacking variety. Some songs don’t offer substantial differentiation from one another, and certain hooks are less memorable, particularly in the second half of the album. A more concise edit of this 17-track collection might better suit Blink-182’s relatively straightforward style.
As the album approaches its end, DeLonge poses a question that lingers in the listener’s mind: “2023, who the fuck are we?” The answer is that Blink-182 remains true to themselves, embodying three friends making noise and having the time of their lives doing it. They may not be reinventing pop punk, but that likely was never the goal. In 2023, they are as fun as ever, and that’s precisely what fans want.