Vinyl Vlog 649

Vinyl Vlog 649

Friday, 03 May 2024
Blink-182 – One More Time – “Bad News”

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the One More Time… LP by Blink-182. It would be easy to find a cynical angle to approach the existence and sound of One More Time…, Blink-182’s ninth studio album and first to feature singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge since 2015. Did DeLonge’s return have something to do with singer/bassist Mark Hoppus’ cancer diagnosis in 2021? Was it because everyone in the band had discovered the sting of post-Blink projects not performing as well as they would have liked? Did the return of all members to the fold have something to do with a shared mid-life crisis (which does feel possible, given that the average age of all the band’s members sits solidly in the “mid-forties” column)? It’s hard to say for sure but when one runs front-to-back with the album, it’s easy to tell that the bandmembers recall exactly where they left off in 2019 and are intent on doing better than any fan could hope for.

As soon as needle catches groove and “Anthem Part 3” opens the A-side of One More Time…, longtime fans will have no difficulty finding their way in at all; while Travis Barker takes a little too much liberty with the mix (the band’s drummer is also the album’s producer – and his drums are very prominent in the record’s overall sound), Mark Hoppus’ and Tom DeLonge’s vocals ring through both brightly and brilliantly – and hold the line when the song shifts gears about three minutes in so that, when the song crashes to a close, listeners will recoil from the blast and be struck enamoured; the opener hits listeners just the same as Blink 182’s Nineties albums did but manages to come off feeling like a genuine return – not a canny or contrived one. That energy endures through through “Dance With Me” as both Hoppus and DeLonge keep pushing their vocals either through their noses (which somehow manages to sound like Mike Burkett, in delivery) or right at the top of their throats, which adds a sense of urgency. After that, the side stumbles pretty clearly with the mid-tempo “remember when” dreck of “Fell In Love” (which tries to be a romantic song for twenty-somethings and should not have been attempted by a band who’s members are all pushing fifty) but recovers really well when “More Than You Know” steps on the accellerator and finds some fury that Blink-182 never really showed so clearly before. Lines like, “I don’t feel pain, I feel more than you’d ever know/ I don’t feel shame, I don’t have highs but I’ve got some lows” really make it feel the emotion implied isn’t just put on – it has been lived in and hasn’t quite been resolved yet, which is a great hook and will hold listeners through what might qualify as the band’s attempt at melodic hardcore (“Turn This Off!”) as well as the band’s “reeling in the years” attempt at sweetness (“When We Were Young” – which just sounds too old and reserved for this band) before finally landing on solid ground with some new attitude problems on “Edging” to close the side.

To its’ credit, “Edging” blasts through with some great new inspirations like discovering fresh new life (“They’ll be hanging me quick when I’m back from the dead”) and new ways to articulate an attitude problem (see, “I’m a punk rock kid, I came from Hell with a curse/ She tried to pray it away, so I fucked her in church”) which rank as the best stuff on the side and, after the song ends less than three minutes later, will have listeners flipping the record over, eagerly – hoping to find anything that plays as well as “Edging” does.

…And they do! While the B-side of One More Time… forces listeners to wait through some hard-won lessons extolled through the dour (by Blink-182 standards) opening cut, “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got,” the going begins to get great when “Bad News” digs through hard times at breakneck speed before resolving with the realization that the character singing the song is better off – content, even – without the girl who left. “Bad News” is a brilliant turn for Blink-182 because it grows up and realizes that pining for a girl is a young man’s game and there needs to be other ways to play; it feels unlikely, but “Bad News” is the reassurance for forty-something punks that there is life after the girl leaves – and it sounds great.

After “Bad News” sets a new precedent for listeners, the B-side of One More Time… does stumble a little (the “Hurt” interlude does not need to appear after “Bad News” – at all) but regains its balance as Turpentine” rages just the right way and asks, “What if I’m not like the others?” before picking up a loose piece of vitriol which feels like it might have fallen out of Green Day’s Nimrod sessions (specifically when the band recorded “Platypus” and unloaded some hatred) before offering listeners one of the best songs Blink 182 has recorded in its 32-year career: “Other Side.” There, all of the track has already been laid through the other songs on One More Time…, so the band simply follows the trail through great memories which lead to loss and heartache and the knowledge that nothing will ever be quite right or the same again – but the story still isn’t quite over – and there may yet be happiness, in the end. Again, as is true in other moments on One More Time…, “Other Side” is a very different kind of song for Blink-182 and has a chance to win a very different kind of fan. This new type of fan is already very familiar with the cookie cutter kind of sophomoric pop-punk that Blink-182 built a base on, but they’ll be really attracted to this new angle that’s laced through One More Time…. “Childhood” is the song which closes out the album (and does it with some date-checking and disillusionment), but “Other Side” is the great, late-playing peak that Blink-182 fans both old and new needed to hear – it is the great summary of the inspiration that yeilded One More Time…, and leaves listeners with a warm feeling in their bellies that they can take away from the album, or revisit repeatedly.

Stepping back from One More Time…, it feels almost childish to characterize this album as a kind of event which can still win new fans as well as giving longtime fans more of what they needed from this band, but that’s exactly what it does. It could easily be said that One More Time… brings with it a sense of closure that the band could say is what they needed to walk away, but the problem with that is that the album is just too fucking good – front-to-back and top-to-bottom, there is just too much about One More Time… that is easy to inhabit. As much as the whole point of this album was to let the band walk away, it’s too good for fans to not take it personally if this turns out to be where Blink-182’s story ends. The band will just have to try again with another release – if they want to make walking away justifiable. One More Time… is not the note on which the band can end. [Bill Adams]


One More Time… LP is out now. Buy it here at Blink-182’s official store.

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