Pop-punk veterans blink-182 have come thrashing back into the scene with their newest release ONE MORE TIME…. Since forming in 1992, the trio now consisting of Tom DeLonge (guitar/vocals), Mark Hoppus (guitar/vocals) and Travis Barker (drums) have become a beloved name with their carefree, skate rock sound. The rockers propelled their way through the 2000s with a number of hits that are now familiar favourites, from 1999 All The Small Things to 2003 I Miss You. Maintaining a charismatic dynamic with catchy, clever songwriting, blink-182 emulated a coolness that was a defining sign of the times. After overcoming longstanding disputes, DeLonge rejoining the band and Hoppus battling cancer, ninth album, ONE MORE TIME… marks the band’s reconnection as friends and places high expectations for a strong record.
Opener ANTHEM PART 3 sets the tone of a with a modern pop-punk sound that does try to incorporate the grit of the late 90s. Brought in by tight-knit cuts of drums and sharp guitar licks, the instrumentation becomes increasingly more dense, setting an anthemic foundation. “This time I won’t be complacent,” is a line that stands out in the chorus as the track appears to settle into the formulaic push and pull of angst and rebellion of a punk rock arrangement. The band’s tones are notably matured, but there is a refined quality that strays away from the uniquely grainy textures that have defined many of their earlier releases. Following tracks DANCE WITH ME and FELL IN LOVE lean more heavily on pop inspiration with high energy and a successfully snappy hook. By this point in the record, ONE MORE TIME… is positioned as an album that seeks to appeal to younger audiences and fit within a redefined alternative rock sound.
In falling into a modern sound, there are some elements that are unique to blink-182’s disposition which get lost. DeLonge and Hoppus’ vocals have always been stand-out, but the new record sees them weighed down with autotune or muddled within overarching instrumentals. Third track TERRIFIED is an excellent song reminiscent of those on blink-182’s 2003 self-titled album, but it has moments where it falls victim to the latter, as well as being drenched in an unusually thick layer of static. It certainly shows that the band has possessed a natural grit that cannot be mimicked, but there seems to be a struggle to consolidate this with modernity. Title track ONE MORE TIME… unexpectedly breaks this up with a simple acoustic melody that allows the heartfelt nature of the lyrics to really shine through. “Strangers, from strangers into brothers/From brothers into strangers once again/We saw the whole world, but I couldn’t see the meaning/I couldn’t even recognise my friends,” plays as an affecting recollection of the trio’s rise and fall as friends, brought to a head with tear-jerking chorus: “Do I have to die to hear you miss me?/Do I have to die to hear you say goodbye?”
Breaking up the reminiscing and pervasive sense of longing for love and youthfulness, the album still makes space for more shocking, punky, piss-off-your-parents numbers in TURN THIS OFF!, TURPENTINE and FUCK FACE. By the time the 19-track record reaches reflective closer CHILDHOOD, it feels like there is some uncertainty as to what the album wants to be. Although “2023, who the fuck are we?” is a line that sums that up quite nicely.
ONE MORE TIME… is a collection of songs with valuable sentiment, but the record does leave something wanting in terms of delivery. Considering the rarity of having two vocalists within a pop-punk outfit at the time of blink-182’s snowballing fame, and the notably raw quality that DeLonge and Hoppus have boasted, the pair’s vocals feel cleanly produced to the point of artifice. It is unfortunate as it can become distracting, making it difficult to fully connect with good songs that have the potential to stand out as some of their best in decades. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that ONE MORE TIME… is an unexpected bonus to grow out of rekindled friendships, making it a touching return for the trio.