When Tom DeLonge left blink-182 again in 2015, Mark Hoppus thought it was good for this time. “I didn’t know that Blink would ever get back together or that I would ever share a stage with Tom,” he told Zane Lowe. Tom didn’t think he’d ever tour again at all. So Mark and Travis Barker recruited Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba to help them keep blink-182 alive. They put out two new albums with him and went on multiple tours, including a massive Enema of the State 20th anniversary run, while Tom was busy being correct about UFOs. Eventually, Tom returned to the road in 2019 when he took his band Angels & Airwaves on their first tour in seven years. And then Mark got sick.
The blink-182 co-leader was diagnosed with cancer in 2021, and one of the people who came to his side was Tom. When he found himself face to face with his old friend’s mortality, touring together again was “the only thing [he] wanted to do,” and when Mark was declared cancer-free four long months later, the classic trio of Mark, Tom, and Travis got the ball rolling on a blink-182 reunion tour and new album. Matt Skiba helped keep the band’s legacy alive and they’ve all expressed gratitude towards him–Tom included–but as Travis puts it, “I really feel like Blink is me, [Mark] and Tom… we shouldn’t exercise Blink or be out there playing unless it’s us three.”
The comeback tour was triumphant. Beginning with a last-minute Coachella set that had people around the world livestreaming the band’s return, the band embarked on a vast world tour that’s still going, giving the world the opportunity to see a full set of classics (and one new song, “Edging”) before introducing us to the first Mark, Tom, and Travis album in 12 years.
The album is now here. It’s called One More Time…, and the band knows that sounds like “we’re here for one more album,” but the meaning goes a little deeper than that. “I don’t wanna wait to do this one more time,” Tom sings on the title track, a song where they ask themselves why it always takes a tragedy to get this lineup back together. This time it was Mark’s cancer diagnosis; when they first reunited in 2009, it was Travis’ near-death plane crash. “This is the last time we’re going to fuck this up,” Tom told Zane Lowe.
“One More Time” is an acoustic song that sounds like a cross between “I Miss You” and “There Is,” and it just might be the sweetest song blink-182 have ever written. Tom reflects on how the guys went “from strangers into brothers / from brothers intro strangers once again,” as Mark laments that “it shouldn’t take a sickness or airplanes falling out the sky” for them to reunite. Tom and Mark harmonize in unison about needing to say they love each other while they’re still here. On the chorus, each member hums the titular line, including Travis, who isn’t generally a singer at all, but whose voice makes the message hit even harder. For a generation who grew up with this band, it’s like watching your parents get back together, and even if their music hasn’t meant much to you over the years, I think it’d be pretty hard to really listen to this song and not reach for the tissues.
Thematically, “One More Time” is the album’s mission statement, but sonically and stylistically, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. With 17 songs in 45 minutes, One More Time… is blink-182’s second longest album behind the untitled LP, and it has a “culmination of everything they’ve done” vibe that makes it one of their most musically varied. It opens with “Anthem Part 3,” which has a lengthy intro that directly calls back to Take Off Your Pants and Jacket opener “Anthem Part Two,” but which becomes its own song from there. They directly embrace the darker, artier post-hardcore of untitled on songs like “Terrified” and “More Than You Know,” and the latter has a woodblock rhythm in the bridge that feels directly descended from “Dysentery Gary.” They go full-on Enema/TOYPAJ-style pop punk on “Dance With Me” and deliver an “Adam’s Song”/“Stay Together for the Kids”-style power ballad with “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got.” Their love of new wave/post-punk comes through with a Cure interpolation on “Fell In Love,” a Siouxsie and the Banshees reference on “Other Side,” and most overtly on the cheekily titled synthpop song “Blink Wave.”
The bulk of the album mirrors the band’s most-loved ’99-’03 era, but One More Time… really does capture the full scope of blink-182, from their punk roots to their more recent endeavors. It has two short, fast, unserious punk songs–“Turn This Off” is their most blatant NOFX homage since they covered “The Longest Line” on their demo, and its “if you’re offended by these words then please fuck off” sentiment is kinda corny in 2023 but at least it’s more in the spirit of snotty punk songs about censorship and less in the spirit of aging punks complaining about cancel culture (and only 24 seconds long), and “Fuck Face” (co-written by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and featuring a scream by Travis) is like a sequel to “My First Punk Song.” On the other end of the spectrum, “Hurt (Interlude)” could be an Angels & Airwaves song (and it should be a lot longer!), and the synths & handclaps of “Fell In Love” continue the pop direction that some of the Tom-less blink albums took.
Travis very much brings his own recent endeavors into the fold too. After blink did their two Skiba-era albums with producer John Feldmann, this one was produced in-house by Travis, who’s become the go-to drummer and producer for pop and hip hop artists looking to inject a little pop punk into their music, like Machine Gun Kelly, WILLOW, Trippie Redd, KennyHoopla, and the back-to-pop-punk album by Avril Lavigne. Anyone producing a blink album is up against their work with the greatest pop punk producer who ever lived, Jerry Finn (RIP), and One More Time…‘s production never reaches the total perfection of Enema of the State, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and the untitled album (and the Box Car Racer album and the +44 album), but Travis clearly handled these songs with care. His drums might sometimes be the loudest instrument on the record (I guess that’s what happens when you give the celebrity drummer some), but at least he’s talented enough to earn it.
Not that Mark and Tom were ever poets, but some of the lyrics on One More Time… are cringey in a way that even their dumbest ’90s lyrics weren’t, Tom’s auto-tune is overwhelming, and some of those more pop-minded production choices fall flat, but even at One More Time…‘s roughest moments, Mark and Tom rekindle the magic and the chemistry that’s made them one of the best songwriting duos in the last quarter-century of popular music. There was a time when blink albums would have clear “Mark songs” and “Tom songs,” but on One More Time… they sing together more than they have on any other album. Mark’s voice has aged a little better than Tom’s, but it’s a thrill to hear Tom really yelling again, and the widely-memed yet beloved way he bends his voice can send shivers down the spine. When he hits the “shaa-aaame” in “More Than You Know,” I surrender.
As far as the experience of consuming a reunion album goes, One More Time… gives you a pretty unique one. It’s not a legacy-altering comeback that rivals the band’s most classic material, nor is it an ignorable dud that makes you long for the early days. It’s an imperfect yet enjoyable record that celebrates this band’s career and friendship, and it’s full of moments that are endearing and heartwarming, especially to longtime fans. On the hard-charging pop punk of “Bad News”–a grown-up breakup song that I think is the album’s secret weapon–Mark sings, “I guess there’s no such thing as a happy ending.” Maybe not, but if One More Time… is the last time that Mark, Tom, and Travis ever make a record together, it comes close.