Hey, have you heard this band Blink-182? You totally should, they’re great. It’s these three dudes and they’re somehow simultaneously 50 and 17, somehow simultaneously snotty kids and veteran rockstars, somehow the rock world’s richest and most successful goofy underdogs. They play pop-punk, except sometimes they don’t, and they’re really funny, expect sometimes they aren’t, and, well, yeah, there’s a lot going on.
More importantly, they're back. The Mark, Tom and Travis show once again, with TomDeLonge, the group's very own prodigal son, back in the fold, a huge world tour lined up and new music imminent, with DeLonge teasing his Twitter followers with a casual 'What if I told you we just made the best album of our career' post.
Here's the story so far, with Blink's studio albums ranked from the silliest to the sublime.
8. Cheshire Cat (1995)
Starting your career with your least impressive album is the best way round for things to go, especially if said album still contains full-on bangers. Carousel and M&Ms show the band’s burgeoning knack for hella catchy tunes, while the sweetly simple Wasting Time is probably the most romantic song to ever reference local nude automotive legislation.
The whole thing has a charming 'will-this-do?' naiveté to it – there’s a song about enjoying watching television that is literally just about enjoying watching television – and an infectious youthful energy. Mark Hoppus was 23-years-old when he recorded this, Tom DeLonge 20, and original drummer Scott Raynor just 17, and it absolutely sounds like three guys having a good time and hoping this music thing pays off.
Buy Cheshire Cat (opens in new tab)
7. Neighborhoods (2011)
There’s a lot going on on Neighborhoods. It’s an ambitious record sonically, with everyone bringing a lot to the table from the eight years that had elapsed since their previous album together. There’s more experimentation than Blink tend to be given credit for, and some of Travis Barker's drumming seems to defy what we know about both physics and the amount of arms he has. But it’s also the sound of a band falling apart.
A hiatus that wasn’t as amicable as it could have been, Barker’s plane crash and the other tragedies that surrounded it, DeLonge’s issues with painkiller addiction – the joie de vivre was gone. The album was recorded remotely, with the three band members barely being in the same room together, and that incredible chemistry that once somehow made the band more than the sum of its parts was just not there anymore. It’s a bleak record, the sound of three people not sure whether they belong together anymore.
Buy Neighborhoods (opens in new tab)
6. Nine (2019)
Nine, the band’s most recent album and the second album of the Matt Skiba era, has a lot to like about it. Everyone involved has clearly put their all into it, bringing in umpteen influences and leaping happily from genre to genre. There are stadium-filling singalong anthems, flag-in-ground still-got-it moments of embracing a decade of musical developments, as well as, with Generational Divide, a pretty convincing argument that actually just fucking going for it for 49 seconds is best.
But it’s also the Blink record involving the most outside writers, and arguably the one that sounds the least like, well, them. Evolution is never a bad thing – nothing is improved by old men shouting at clouds – but expect the reunited trio to do better.
Buy Nine (opens in new tab)
5. California (2016)
When Tom DeLonge departed for what seemed like the final time in 2015, it was easy enough to assume that was the end of the road for Blink-182. But drafting in Matt Skiba was an inspired choice that in hindsight seems obvious – another tall, handsome, funny dude, one with a hell of a voice on him, bringing the same dark humour to the band that he’s always done with Alkaline Trio.
Hoppus and Skiba’s voices work together perfectly, Skiba’s lyrical additions (it seems safe to say the mentions of Bauhaus' art career were his) work really well, and there’s a fine job done in general of presenting pop-punk's clown princes as more grown-up. Despite the return of joke songs, this isn’t the sound of a silly band about to run around naked – everyone’s in their 40s. It’s very much the sound of Established Extremely Successful Band Blink-182, with Hoppus sliding into his ‘beloved internet dad’ persona (one he embodies magnificently).
Buy California (opens in new tab)
4. Dude Ranch (1997)
Every second of Dude Ranch makes you want to be in a band. Nothing has ever, ever sounded as much fun as being in Blink-182 in the late-ish '90s. The sheer joy coming out of Dude Ranch is unfakeable and utterly beautiful. They’re young enough that they’re still in high school bathrooms in music videos, surprising amounts of Tom DeLonge’s forearms are still visible and the pressures of touring are yet to get to them.
Drummer Scott Raynor would be fired while promoting this record, making it the last one featuring the “organic” lineup. There are some moments that really haven’t dated well, understandably, but good god, the whole thing is just so much fun. Even if Blink had never made another record, Dammit would be a floor-filler to this day.
Buy Dude Ranch (opens in new tab)
3. Untitled (2005)
Ambition can be an odd thing in music – bands sometimes get tired of themselves quicker than their fans do, and while millions of people would have happily taken another Enema or TOYPAJ, the Untitled album features a band trying to grow up and be taken seriously. Hoppus, DeLonge and Barker were hitting thirty and leading different lives, and clearly increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of being 'the naked fart-jokes dudes' band.
Despite tension caused by side projects, shifting priorities and fame, the three of them came together to smoke an enormous amount of weed and create something pretty amazing, presented without a title as the definitive version of Blink. Feeling This is both wistful and horny, I Miss You features Tom DeLonge’s ever-evolving accent at its best and Always is power-pop perfection.
Buy Untitled (opens in new tab)
2. Take Off Your Pants And Jacket (2001)
There has never, ever been a better title for an album than this. Never. Angrier than its predecessors and featuring a newly-befringed DeLonge in all-black-clad band on the back cover, it went darker and more introspective than Enema... on songs like Stay Together For The Kids and Shut Up, but managed to have its cake and eat it with the wafer-thin but impossible-to-dislike The Rock Show and First Date.
It also features Happy Holidays, You Bastard, a one-joke song that, again, is still incredibly funny, and a rogues’ gallery of hilariously obscene hidden tracks about dogs, mothers and grandpas. What more could anyone want from a pop-punk album circa 2001?
Buy Take Off Your Pants And Jacket (opens in new tab)
1. Enema Of The State (1999)
It was always going to be Enema Of The State at number one, wasn’t it? Like Alan Partridge's Best Of The Beatles. Predictable, sure, but inarguable.
This was the first a lot of the world saw of Blink-182, and what an intro – three naked dudes with charisma to burn (including supernaturally talented new recruit Travis Barker) somehow managing to present an album that plays like a greatest-hits collection, banger after banger after banger of pop-punk at its most fun, full of angst and mischief.
There are the three big singles, of course - What's My Age Again?, All The Small Things and Adam's Song - all of which hold up magnificently, but there’s also the unapologetically romantic Going Away To College, the gleefully strange Aliens Exist, the knackering The Party Song, and the weird one about diarrhoea. File alongside Dookie and Smash for when Tom DeLonge's beloved ETs come asking questions about pop-punk.
Buy Enema Of The State (opens in new tab)