Ah, to be 13 again. You’ve just finished your school day; your teachers don’t understand you and the left speaker on the crappy knock-off earphones your parents bought you for the walk home has gone, so you’re left to walk the mile home with just drums and some uncomfortably fuzzy bass playing from your right earphone. You get back to your room and put on Kerrang! Radio, Blink-182 is playing, and it makes you wonder: what IS the best Blink-182 studio album?
WELL, FEAR NOT! Today I’m going to answer your wholly subjective question with my own wholly subjective opinion. Without further ado, this is Blink-182: RANKED*!
*’Buddha’ not included, sorry not sorry.
8. California – 2016
‘California’ is the first album the band released after the band said so long to DeLonge in 2015. Matt Skiba of fellow iconic pop-punk band Alkaline Trio was brought in to replace Tom DeLonge for some live shows and was eventually made a full-time member of Blink-182.
I’ll just get it out there: ‘California’ sucks. It’s not a good album. The lack of chemistry between Skiba and Mark Hoppus & Travis Barker on their initial outing shows via half-baked ideas and boring, lifeless rehashes of former glories. ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’? Really?
This one hurt. Hoppus & Barker would’ve been better off putting the time into doing a +44 tour or something. Blink-182? More like Blink-18poo.
7. Nine – 2019
This list isn’t to rag on Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio rocks), but it’s hard to justify putting either album any higher than this. ‘Nine’ isn’t as painfully terrible as ‘California’, in fact, there’s a couple of decent songs on the album – ‘Darkside’ for instance: a very catchy pop-rock tune that’ll probably hit pretty nicely at live shows.
Other than that, it’s hard to say anything else about it. It’s not a terrible album, it’s just unremarkable. John Feldmann’s production is great, not all of the songs are bad and the chemistry between the three members has obviously developed a little in the few years since ‘California’. It’s about the best you could hope for from a band that is over the hill.
6. Neighborhoods – 2011
Here we are, the worst DeLonge-era Blink-182 album. ‘Neighborhoods’ isn’t as bad as it is depressing. It was the first (and so far, only) album the band made with DeLonge post-implosion and you could tell that things were still a little awkward – the album was mostly recorded with each member alone in separate studios.
‘Neighborhoods’ is very much a listenable album, but it pales in comparison to the band’s earlier work. It continues the direction established on their 2004 self-titled album, but also incorporates creative ideas from DeLonge’s other band Angels & Airwaves and Hoppus & Barker’s other band +44 and unfortunately, it feels like a ‘too many cooks’ situation. The album lacks a consistent musical direction, jumping from idea to idea without much consideration for the overall flow of the album. ‘Snake Charmer’ is an underrated banger.
5. Cheshire Cat – 1995
‘Cheshire Cat’ is Blink’s debut studio album and it’s absolutely excellent. Blink was forced to record the sixteen tracks that make up the album in three days and that rushed energy serves to compliment most of them. It’s raw and scrappy and sounds relatively untouched by any production – it’s punk AF.
Whilst a lot of ‘Cheshire Cat’ has been forgotten about, there are a number of tracks that have stood the test of time. For instance, ‘Carousel’, which regularly tops many a YouTube video discussing the best pop-punk basslines and ‘Wasting Time’, which I personally think is one of Blink-182’s best and most underrated songs – that guitar riff is something else, man!
‘Cheshire Cat’ isn’t a perfect album by any means, but it was a great studio debut for an iconic SoCal band who would go on to do bigger and better things. Like…
4. Dude Ranch – 1997
Ah, ‘Dude Ranch’. A title that I didn’t fully understand until literally two years ago. ‘DR’ is the band’s second studio album and the last album to feature original drummer Scott Raynor, who would be dismissed from the band and replaced with The Aquabats’ Travis Barker shortly after the album’s release.
You probably know ‘Dude Ranch’ from its fantastic single ‘Dammit’, but there’s a lot more from ‘Dude Ranch’ that gets swept under the rug. For example, the album’s lead single ‘Apple Shampoo’, like ‘Wasting Time’, is an incredible song that is often overlooked or forgotten about. Every single released for this album – ‘Apple Shampoo’, ‘Dammit’, ‘Dick Lips’ and ‘Josie’ – is strong in its own right. Even the non-single tracks are great, with album opener ‘Pathetic’ and ‘Enthused’ being particularly strong.
‘Dude Ranch’ was the true beginning of Blink-182 showing the world what they were capable of and man were the next few years great to them.
3. Enema of the State – 1999
Some people may claim that this is Blink’s best album – it isn’t, but third place still wins a medal, dammit! ‘Enema of the State’ is the album that solidified Blink-182 as pop-punk mainstays.
There isn’t a bad song on Blink’s third studio album. From ‘Enema’’s opener ‘Dumpweed’ to its closer ‘Anthem’, Blink is bringing the fucking heat. So many of the band’s best tracks like ‘Going Away to College’ and ‘What’s My Age Again’ come from this album – even the lesser-known songs like ‘Wendy Clear’ kick ass.
The only thing the 1999 album suffers from is a lack of cohesion. There are multiple points across the 35 minutes of ‘Enema of the State’ where tracks could’ve had better placements. ‘Don’t Leave Me’ coming right after ‘Dumpweed’ feels like an immediate U-turn – going from the incredibly angsty and energetic DeLonge-fronted punk anthem to the comparatively more mellow Hoppus-fronted ‘Don’t Leave Me’ really interrupts the flow of the album, especially when track three, ‘Alien’s Exist’, is the perfect medium. Swap track two and three and the album flows better. Don’t @ me.
At the end of the day, ‘Enema of the State’ catapulted Blink-182 into superstardom and still slaps with the ferocity of a man who’s just had his chips stolen by seagulls – even after 22 years.
2. Blink-182 – 2003
Ah, Blink-182’s Weezer moment. Much like how Weezer fans argue whether the Blue album or ‘Pinkerton’ is better, Blink-182 fans often argue whether the self-titled album or ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ is better – and I’m nervous to report that ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ is the superior album. Sorry, self-titled stans.
With that out of the way, it’s very hard to say enough good things about Blink-182’s coming-of-age. ‘Blink-182’ is absolutely incredible, even if the circumstances that followed its release tainted its legacy.
‘Blink-182’ was the last album the band released before their acrimonious and very public falling out in 2004. It experimented with darker themes and styles and a complete abandonment of the comedic edge Blink had come to be known for on their prior albums – even down to the music videos.
The band’s fourth album is dark, brooding and edgy. It’s not Blink’s easiest listen, but it’s certainly rewarding. There are a couple of tracks that maybe could’ve done with being lost to the cutting room floor, but they’re not so offensive that they bring the album down – hell, this album’s only real flaw is being a smidge too long. Songs like ‘Asthenia’, ‘Feeling This’ and ‘Down’ will keep you coming back, and songs like ‘All of This’, ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and ‘Always’ will keep you interested.
1. Take Off Your Pants and Jacket – 2001
It took me a long, long time to come to terms with this decision, but I stand by it. ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ is Blink-182’s best album by a mile. It’s the perfect mix of ‘Enema of the State’ and ‘Blink-182’ without any of the flaws from both albums. Every song is good, it flows cohesively and it’s not overlong.
This is Blink-182 in their prime. DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker shine across this album. The songwriting is sharp, poignant, charming and funny (thanks, ‘Happy Holidays’) and there’s never a moment across TOYPaJ that you feel the boys are taking themselves too seriously.
There’s not too much more to say about TOYPaJ other than it’s absolutely brilliant. A 10/10 pop-punk album that stands the test of time, even as we approach its 20th anniversary.
Yeah, ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ was the peak of Blink-182’s career, and whilst it’s likely that the band will never release anything this good again (especially in their current state), it’s important to remember that we were very lucky to have gotten a discography as (mostly) good as this. Blink-182 remain one of the most iconic and influential bands to have emerged in the ’90s and it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Hopefully one day we get to see Tom DeLonge re-join the band and give us the send-off Blink-182 deserves as we continue through what’s likely the final act of the band’s career.
Listen to Blink-182 today. You know you wanna.
Photo: Randall Slavin