The Blink-182 Albums Ranked
Although their heyday came slightly before my time, Blink-182 was always a part of my childhood and adolescent years. My tween years especially were full of pop punk angst; middle school is when Blink infiltrated my attention, long after they had actually entered their prolonged hiatus. But their popularity endured, and I think their stratospheric success was somewhat lost on me until I had the greater context of their place in the development of mid-90s pop punk and, subsequently, early to mid-2000s emo. But all of my friends listened to Blink-182, and I think there’s a combined sense of nostalgia associated with the band, even across generations (and opposite ends of the same generations). This was my peak listening period for the band, stretching from those aforementioned middle school years through the first couple years of high school, the ages the band has always kind of spoken to, regardless of the members’ own ages.
But of course, that was part of the narrative of Blink-182 towards the tail end of their initial life. Nevertheless, I had a lessening of infatuation, but as the band has returned (without singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge), I’ve found myself drawn back to the old stuff. And with the release of NINE and my exploration of Blink-182’s discography for this piece, I’m back on the Blink-182 bandwagon. I always thought they were great, but here I am again, my Mark, Tom, and Travis (plus Scott and Matt) appreciation reinvigorated. Without further ado, I’ve ranked the band’s eight albums below. Oh, and yes, eight, because although their latest album is titled NINE to indicate Blink-182’s ninth album and singer/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker consider the 1994 demo BUDDHA the canonical first album, I don’t. When it comes to these things, it’s a bit of an amorphous determination, but with the re-recording of a number of songs on the demo for the band’s full debut, CHESHIRE CAT, I decided to omit BUDDHA, even though it was a formative listen for me. Anyways, without actual further ado: the Blink-182 albums ranked.
#8 — NEIGHBORHOODS (2011)
Favorite track: “Up All Night”
Blink’s long-awaited return from their eight-year recording hiatus was a complete let down. That’s what NEIGHBORHOODS was. I was waiting for the album for, like, three years instead of the eight and I remember being majorly disappointed. It was clearly a fuller embracing of the “serious” tone of BLINK-182 (or UNTITLED or SELF-TITLED or whatever you want to call it) and, in a primordial sense, TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET. But it felt self-serious and out-of-touch with what made Blink-182 exciting, resulting in a sort of bland step away from pop punk into over-produced alt rock radio manifestations. The lead single, “Up All Night,” is the catchiest track, but it’s a “stand out” amid an album of quicksand boredom.
#7 — CHESHIRE CAT (1995)
Favorite track: “Romeo and Rebecca”
OK, this is where we get into “the rest of this list is made up of great albums” territory. Blink’s debut studio album is a less definite (and great) coming out party than some of Blink’s contemporaries (Green Day’s DOOKIE  was not their debut, but it came out the year before and broke them in a big way). But it’s a phenomenally raw record, bursting with adolescent male energy in the most charming way; Blink-182, despite claims to the contrary, has never been a force for toxic masculinity in pop punk. Nevertheless, some of their silly jokes ring a little stale, even if tracks like “Romeo and Rebecca” and “Fentoozler” still feel exciting. The whole of CHESHIRE CAT does, in fact, feel pretty exciting, a record on the precipice of contributing to an entire movement and sound and remaining very listenable and catchy 24 years later.
#6 — NINE (2019)
Favorite track: “Heaven”
I almost went ahead and put NINE higher than #6, which may have been a bit more controversial than its current placement. Although recency bias often indicates that experiencing something more recently foments positive reception, I often feel it works in reverse for me, with a lot of things requiring more listens/watches/plays for me to really reach a more likable place. NINE fit into the traditional recency bias trend, however, and I do think it’s a great album. It’s the second with Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba on vocals and guitar after conflict with DeLonge reached a head in 2015 and the dude went off to look for UFOs or whatever. I think NINE has more of an influence from Barker, as well, who has always been a force for infusing other sounds and genres into Blink’s work. Therefore, NINE enters hip hop, pop, and electronic production territory, not unlike NEIGHBORHOODS. Unlike that album, however, the band’s most recent record fuses the influences, as well as the pop punk foundation, to create driving, rather than disturbingly placid, songs. “Heaven” is the best example of that, a barreling track with a very catchy chorus. Beyond a few key tracks with a similar vibe, like “Happy Days,” “Blame It on My Youth,” and “On Some Emo Shit,” the rest of the album can degrade into lackluster shape.
#5 — CALIFORNIA (2016)
Favorite track: “No Future”
And I think that speaks to some strange inability for Blink-182 to capture the emotional resonance of their slower songs, which were developed into a strong presence on TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET and BLINK-182. Those slower songs are lacking on CALIFORNIA as well, the first without DeLonge, whose absence definitely isn’t the only key factor, since he did also make NEIGHBORHOODS. Songs like single “Home Is Such a Lonely Place” and “Teenage Satellites” are plaintive and don’t feel quite…authentic. But songs like “No Future” are more aggressive call-backs to the band’s roots while updating the sound with modern production methods rather than weakening it. CALIFORNIA has a lot more of those kinds of tracks (including “Los Angeles” and “She’s Out of Her Mind”), which bumps it up over NINE. I should mention that Skiba, who first appeared on CALIFORNIA, is a welcome vocal presence, even if the duality with Hoppus isn’t as pronounced as it was between Tom and Mark.
#4 — DUDE RANCH (1997)
Favorite track: “Josie”
The last recording with original drummer Scott Raynor, a somewhat overlooked component of the band’s history, DUDE RANCH was an incredible evolution from CHESHIRE CAT. It took that record’s roughness, Blink’s irreverence (there’s a song called “Dick Lips” for fuck’s sake), and pop sensibilities and produced it into a greater universe. It’s just easier to listen to and its leading tracks are more catchy, what can I say. Blink-182 would be increasingly accused of “selling out,” but sell on I say, if what we got was DUDE RANCH and its follow up. “Josie” is an all-time great teen anthem, maybe my favorite Blink-182 song. And that’s saying a lot, since I think the band probably has five or six in the running for best songs of the entire ’90s pop punk movement.
#3 — TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET (2001)
Favorite track: “Stay Together for the Kids”
Heralded as a “growing up” moment for the band, TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND THE JACKET did end up making a case for Blink-182’s “serious” songwriting talents. “Stay Together for the Kids” is the record’s best track, amid some real good bangers, but precisely because it feels different from the other singles, “First Date” and “The Rock Show,” which are still great songs by the way. This evolution was heralded on the band’s previous effort, ENEMA OF THE STATE, with “Adam’s Song,” but this energy was spread out a bit more across TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET. Of course, the album is still called TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS AND JACKET (take off your pants and jack it, get it), and so it really does feel like just the one step away from the pop punk perfection of ENEMA OF THE STATE…
#2 — BLINK-182 (2003)
Favorite track: “Feeling This”
…and the proto-emo declaration of BLINK-182, the UNTITLED or SELF-TITLED or, again, whatever you want to call it. It’s important to note that, although the two are conflated, pop punk and emo really are two different sides of a similar coin. Generally, pop punk is more fun and, well, better. Both can be incredibly insular and demeaning to or at the very least inconsiderate of women. But with the straw that broke the camel’s back (the band would go into their extended hiatus after the release of this record), Blink-182 toed the line between the two genres so perfectly. Although I feel BLINK-182 may have yielded fewer individual, stand out tracks, the entire package and mood of the album is almost the band’s most cohesive and affecting, blending adolescent optimism with youthful angst, even as the band entered a relatively advanced age to be addressing teenage subjects. It’s all the more impressive, then, that BLINK-182 is convincing and powerful, made so by the “elevation” of the band’s sound.
#1 — ENEMA OF THE STATE (1999)
Favorite track: “What’s My Age Again?”
But I always have a bit of an issue with people praising things with that word, “elevating.” Because nothing was more “elevated” than the pure pop punk fun, and slight angst, of Blink-182’s ENEMA OF THE STATE, an apotheosis of the sentiments spread across numerous influencers and imitators of the band and a distillation, truly, of “pop” and “punk.” Every single one of ENEMA OF THE STATE’s 12 tracks flow perfectly into one another, an aspect I don’t think I’ve seen praised enough, maintaining a perfect pace of catchy songs predicated on typical pop hooks that are nevertheless fueled by the instrumental dressings and energy of punk. I really do think ENEMA OF THE STATE is a near perfect album; there isn’t a single track that I don’t at least really, really like. I’m 23, though, so I had to pick “What’s My Age Again?” as my favorite. I’m 23, so also, Blink-182 continues to speak to this formerly (and still somewhat current) angsty, insecure suburban white kid.