This is all anybody wanted.
Blink-182’s eruptive One More Time… is a knockout return for the pop-punk institution — a homecoming parade of hooks masking the band’s patented suburban angst. It’s loud and fast, silly and sad, and a sincere restoration of brotherhood following guitarist/singer Tom DeLonge’s 2022 reunion (after an acrimonious departure in 2015).
After a pair of largely insipid, punk-by-numbers releases with Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba (California (2016) and Nine (2019)), the true Blink order feels restored here. The goofy-gone-grand chemistry between DeLonge, bassist/singer Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker is no less palpable than it was two decades ago.
Fittingly, One More Time … plays like a big-brother sequel to the band’s 2003 self-titled album, touting similar emo-rock sensibilities and experimentation. It’s a more worthy comeback than 2011’s Neighborhoods (released after the band’s first hiatus, between 2005 to 2011), which played like an overworked and overserious extension of DeLonge’s spacey Angels & Airwaves band.
Instead, this reconciliation feels fresh, fun — and hits like a goddamn freight train.
From the throttling fanfare of trilogy-completing opener “Anthem Part 3” and onward, it’s a best-case-scenario for Blink lifers, teeming with hearty sing-alongs, ruminations on the band’s most recent challenges — namely Hoppus’s lymphoma battle — and the familiar dick jokes ripe to be shared with an arena crowd.
“When I teach masturbation, I’m always just like ‘have fun with it,’” DeLonge deadpans as “Dance With Me” kicks in, a high-tempo party cut with its deliciously dopey chorus, “Ole, ole, ole, ole / yeah! We’re doin’ it all night long!” Is it a little hollow? Sure, but you’ll be singing before the tune is finished. Keep in mind, Blink-182 is the band that blew up over “All the Small Things” and its “na-na-na” refrain. Expectations of scholarly lyricism are best kept tempered.
Still, there’s plenty of heart to this record. The autobiographical title track, detailing the band’s latest reunion, is a ballad successor to “I Miss You” — and will likely earn similar belt-alongs on the band’s 2024 tour. “I wish they told us, it shouldn’t take a sickness / Or airplanes falling out the sky,” Hoppus sings somberly, referencing both his 2021 cancer diagnosis that brought DeLonge back into the fold and the 2008 plane crash that nearly killed Barker.
“You Don’t Know What You’ve Got,” a mid-tempo burner with melodies similar to past tracks like “Bored to Death” (2016) and “Always” (2003), touches more pointedly on Hoppus’s health woes: “One phone call wiped out a year … Long weeks of impending doom … Always so close to goodbye,” Hoppus laments.
The rest is thankfully far less sobering. “Turn This Off!,” the band’s latest speedfreak comedy bit — following “Happy Holidays, You Bastard” (2001) and “Built this Pool” (2016) — finds DeLonge declaring: “If you’re offended by these words then please fuck off / If you’re an asshole with a dick, then that’s something I can lick” and Hoppus tenderly opining over premature ejaculation.
Somewhere between the extremes of existential despair and pre-teen humor, the album’s rollicking core is anchored by driving guitars and DeLonge’s revitalized vocals, which regularly soar with serration (and less Angels & Airwaves-era stylization, some tasteful auto-tune notwithstanding). “Terrified” stirs an addictive punk frenzy, born from a long-shelved outtake from DeLonge and Barker’s heavier Boxcar Racer side-project. More overtly hardcore is “Fuckface,” a 27-second gut punch featuring Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on guitar and Barker sharing vocals with DeLonge, a rarity for Blink (Armstrong and Barker played in Transplants).
The poppier “Fell in Love” lands another shrewd callback as it interpolates The Cure’s hit “Close to Me” (1985) — Robert Smith was featured on Blink-182 (2003) and they’ve regularly shared their adoration for the new wave icons. In a recent interview, Hoppus noted how seeing bassist Simon Gallup in The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” video is what spurred him to pick up the instrument. Another bouncy new track, dumbly titled “Blinkwave,” also pays homage.
As the album slaloms between more traditional pop-punk and sonic twists both harder and softer, the production — done solely by Barker, a first for the band — is exceedingly slick. The instruments jump, the vocals pop in the mix, the rekindled, raw energy is apparent.
The album isn’t perfect. The pensive closer “Childhood” is too precious in its “where did the time go” wonderings. Lead single “Edging” is a mediocre punk number even Green Day might have left behind, and “When We Were Young” is undercooked and appears to battle its own time signature.
But it’s still the band’s best work in 20 years, and rocket fuel for this new chapter and whatever follows.
The smart money is on the guys sticking together this time, as the album title is a misnomer.
It’s not “we’re only going to do this one more time.” It’s that life has given them one more chance to get it right, and they’re not going to fuck it up again.