Nine (Blink-182 album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||September 20, 2019|
|Recorded||April 2018–June 2019|
|Singles from Nine|
Nine is the upcoming eighth (or ninth as stated by Mark Hoppus) studio album by American rock band Blink-182, set to be released on September 20, 2019 through Columbia Records. Blink-182—composed of bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, guitarist/vocalist Matt Skiba, and drummer Travis Barker—began developing the album after fulfilling touring obligations for their previous release, California (2016). While Nine builds upon the band's collaboration with producer John Feldmann—who also produced California—it also explores outside producers and songwriters. During the recording process, the band worked with several teams, including Captain Cuts, the Futuristics, and producer Tim Pagnotta.
Much of the album's lyricism is dark in nature and was informed by world events, as well as Hoppus's battle with depression. The color wash album cover was painted by renowned graffiti artist RISK, while the album's title stems from its numerical sequence in the band's catalog. Musically, the album updates the band's pop punk sound with hip hop-inspired programming, as well as electronics.
From 2016 to 2018, Blink-182 toured extensively in support of their previous album, California. After touring concluded, Skiba and Barker took time off from the band in order to focus on other projects. Skiba returned to Alkaline Trio to record their 2018 album, Is This Thing Cursed?, and tour in support of it, while Barker focused his energies on multiple different projects, including collaborations with Yungblud, Machine Gun Kelly, XXXTentacion, and Lil Nas X. Hoppus, however, fell into a depression. Band manager Gus Brandt became concerned, as did Hoppus's wife, Skye. She implored him to focus on activities that made him feel happiest, which for him were writing and playing music. He decided upon the idea of fronting a solo album, with guest spots from familiar faces he had worked with over the years. His first call went to All Time Low vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth, and their studio sessions evolved into Simple Creatures, a full-fledged side project. The duo released their first two extended plays, Strange Love and Everything Opposite, in 2019.
Recording and production
The band first began recording new music in April 2018, with the band members posting photos and videos to their respective social media accounts. The band continued collaborating with producer John Feldmann, as well as recording at their personal home studios. The trio recorded over 30 songs, largely in the same pop punk vein as California. Midway through the process, the band became concerned the material felt too familiar and predictable. Barker was the first to voice concern, with Hoppus and Skiba later agreeing and informing Feldmann. The band decided to start over, and continued their work with outside songwriters. Hoppus likened the approach to a blind date, as prior to the sessions, the band members and producers/songwriters had yet to meet.
During the recording process for Nine, the band worked with several artists, among them Pharrell Williams, The Futuristics, Captain Cuts, Andrew Watt, and Tim Pagnotta, with whom they wrote the singles "Blame It on My Youth" and "Happy Days". Much of the new songs were built around Barker's drum beats, rather than guitar melodies. For Skiba, the unity of the band during the recording process helped solidify their friendships. "I now know my place better in Blink than I did years ago. We're always learning," he said. Musically, Nine infuses hip hop-inspired programming, electronics, and modern recording techniques into the band's punk rock sound. "Making sure Blink isn't different than modern music — rather than being something of the past — is a big achievement for me," Barker said shortly before the album's release. Steve Appleford of the Los Angeles Times describes the album as containing "postmodern effects and accelerated beats mingling with Blink-style vocal harmonies."
Lyrical subject matter on Nine is largely dark in tone, frequently focusing on self-doubt and isolation. Many conversations with their outside songwriters began with discussing their worst fears and building a song around it. Hoppus hoped to capture more honesty in his songwriting, and as such, much of Nine is inspired by his battle with depression. "My brain naturally goes in cycles to dark places and I have to actively combat that," he told Matt Allen of Kerrang!. "I'm not in a place right now where I want to write happy, up-tempo songs." He turned to exercise as a method of countering the negative thoughts, as well as spending more time outdoors and reading books. He also struggled with his confidence: "I wake up every day like, 'I'm never going to write another good song,'" he said. Hoppus noted to Allen that a compulsion to check his phone and scroll on Twitter impacted his daily thoughts:
|“||"It's a really strange time where everyone is on heightened alert," he said. "I wake up and look at Twitter, I get angry, and I start my day. It's unhealthy to live with this level of anger. I have to consciously make an effort to not look at the news a lot of the time and just say, 'Every single day there's some new outrage and a lot of the time it's not worth my time.' [...] The way everything is wired right now — between the news, and Twitter, and social media — everything spins so quickly that there's no time to take a breath."||”|
In addition, world events—the presidency of Donald Trump, border control policies, and the influx of mass shootings in the U.S.—were infused into Nine. Specifically, "Heaven" was written about the Thousand Oaks shooting that took place in November 2018, which happened just shy of two miles from Barker's home. Other songs, such as "Black Rain", center on concepts of faith. Feldmann first sketched out the song as an uplifting embrace of salvation, but Skiba altered it to serve as a critique of organized religion. He had recently viewed the film Spotlight, and its investigation into the known abuses of children at the hands of Catholic Church instilled a rage in him. "I took John's hopeful, churchy idea and painted it black [...] I have zero faith for the business of fear and war-mongering," he said. There are also multiple references throughout the album to using alcohol for self-medicative purposes. Hoppus noted to Allen that he and Skiba were not completely sober, and that the lyrical references capture his belief that "the world is looking for something to take the edge off, whether that be drinking or taking pills."
Artwork and title
Barker was in charge of developing the artwork, as he had been on previous releases. He picked from four of his favorite artists, with the renowned graffiti artist RISK delivering the final artwork. His goal as an artist is to evoke emotion with color in an abstract sense, and to achieve this, he often uses the color wash technique. RISK calls this treatment "Beautiful Destruction", and everyone in the band loved his pieces enough to use for the album cover.
While in production, the band often referred to the album with the joke title Bojmir—or rim job backwards. Shortly after the album's announcement, Hoppus posted the meaning of the album's name on Reddit, stating that it is their ninth album. While Blink-182 had only released seven official studio albums prior to Nine, Hoppus also included their demo album, Buddha, as an official album:
|“||"NINE. This is our ninth album, as decided by me and Travis. Some count Buddha, some not. Some count The Mark, Tom and Travis Show. Some count Greatest Hits. Some count Dogs Eating Dogs. I'm counting Buddha, Cheshire Cat, Dude Ranch, Enema of the State, TOYPAJ, Untitled, Neighborhoods, California, and now Nine. Nine is also the number of universal love, and the number of Uranus."||”|
The band announced a 2019 headlining tour with rapper Lil Wayne on May 6, 2019 in support of the forthcoming album. Two days later, the trio released the lead single "Blame It on My Youth" with a lyric video online featuring Risk spray-painting the song's lyrics on a wall in a time lapse. The trio previewed an additional three songs prior to the album's release; "Generational Divide" was released on June 21, as was its accompanying music video, with "Happy Days" following on July 1. "Darkside" continued the pre-release strategy on July 26, with its official music video premiering on August 28. In addition, the group released “I Really Wish I Hated You” as the fifth and final single for the album on September 6.
The band started a text messaging newsletter in the days leading up to the release of the Darkside single, and has since updated it with previews of songs and links to new videos. The number could also be called to be greeted with a fifteen-second preview of Darkside as the answering machine.
The band announced Nine on July 25, 2019.
Wall of Sound gave it a positive rating of 8/10 stating: "I guarantee you’ll be won back to Team Blink much like I have with what I’m going to say is an album that’s on par with the likes of Take Off Your Pants And Jacket or Dogs Eating Dogs...".
Crypticrock.com gave it a excellent rating of 5/5 stars. https://crypticrock.com/blink-182-nine-album-review/
|1.||"The First Time"||2:26|
|5.||"Blame It on My Youth"||3:05|
|9.||"I Really Wish I Hated You"||3:11|
|10.||"Pin the Grenade"||2:59|
|11.||"No Heart to Speak Of"||3:40|
|13.||"On Some Emo Shit"||3:09|
|15.||"Remember to Forget Me"||3:29|
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- Allen 2019, p. 26.
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- Allen 2019, p. 31.
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- Aniftos, Rania (June 21, 2019). "Blink-182 Releases 50-Second Single, 'Generational Divide': Listen". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
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- Kaufman, Gil (July 26, 2019). "Blink-182 Happily Plunge Into the 'Darkside' On New Track: Listen". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- Darus, Alex (August 28, 2019). "blink-182 have a punk-rock pep rally in "Darkside" video". Alternative Press. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
- "Blink-182 Announce New Album 'NINE' - Check Out The Tracklist, Cover Art & Release Date - News". Rock Sound. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
- "blink-182 – NINE (Album Review)". Wall Of Sound. 2019-09-13. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
- "Nine by blink-182". Apple Music. Retrieved July 26, 2019.