Perhaps at this point the best way to describe the quality of Blink 182's career is that, despite new record Nine falling short of the mark, this still somehow translates into a high quality pop punk/rock record. Nine is a collation of old and new, it pairs classic sounds with new directions that while some fans will find distasteful, others will bask in the opening of a new musical space for the band.
The Californian's Previous, aptly titled release California was evidence that life after Tom DeLonge could still move forward, and that new guitarist Matt Skiba was a more than capable replacement - Nine is no different in that regard. The first half of the track list here bare's similarities in terms of tonality with its predecessor, with the odd new flourish of new instrumental direction. 'Happy Days' even gives the impression of an 'Adam's Song' anthem, for all broken youth to indulge in.
It's tracks like 'Run Away' 'Black Rain', and perhaps the hyper laced 'I Really Wish I Hated You' that elevates Nine - not everything on show here is necessarily what you'd associate with the three piece, but when it works it feels like a masterstroke. The latter in particular has more in common with a Pop or Hip-Hop song, which is great in a vacuum but will definitely divide fans.
Strangely, Skiba is not utilised as much as he should have been for his powerful vocals and the record relies heavily on Mark Hoppus, with the exception of 'No Heart To Speak Of', which is probably Nine's brightest shining light. And when you add 'First Time' into the mix you find a duo of tracks here that show us a band still riddled with energy and a creative backbone.
To no one's surprise - ultra flamboyant drummer Travis Barker smashes his fills out of the park for the majority of Nine. With his percussive skill set most notable on 'Generational Divide', it's astonishing that two decades later - no one in Blink 182's zenith has even come close to challenging Barker's quality, he's still the difference marker.
Single 'Darkside' though hook ridden in its own right, seems an unusual choice to front the release of Nine. The truth is this record has much more to offer than what's on offer here, and though elements of Nine leave a little to be desired, this is a fascinating release from a band that didn't have to reinvent themselves, but have chosen to anyway. This is another notch on Blink 182's ever growing musical canvas - they're still the kings of pop punk, and you shouldn't expect that to change any time soon.