I can honestly say that when Blink 182 had made their original announcement that they were booking studio time to record a new album, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. “Why is that?” you ask? Because we were coming off of their 2011 release “Neighborhoods” of which I was not too fond of. I mean, we went all this time without a Blink album, only to get a heavily DeLonge influenced Angels & Airwaves-esque album with a Blink 182 theme and name. Needless to say, I was not a fan.
But then something changed. Tom DeLonge, once again, quit the band. AFTER studio time and shows had already been booked.
D**K move bro.
So, remaining members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker recruit Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba to fill in.
It was magical. Honestly, when a singer with a unique and iconic sounding voice like Tom DeLonge departs, you have to replace him with someone along the same lines.
It was as if new life had been breathed into the iconic “Pop-Punk” trio. A new energy and adjusted sound had revamped the band, and crowds ate it up. In fact, it was so good, the band decided to keep their studio bookings and announce that Skiba was officially joining. So, my reaction went from that of heavy skepticism, to that of excitement and optimism.
After a bit of time, we were given an album name and a single entitled “Bored to Death.”
Not too bad I thought to myself upon listening to the single. My optimism was growing and growing as the release date drew nearer.
Finally July of 2016 comes around, and the new album “California” drops.
My optimism and expectations were well met. Of course it wasn’t like previous Blink albums as the band had matured, but it has a solid sound to it that resurrected them from their previous release. You can tell that they really had fun this album. They even brought back some of the sophomoric humor that made them notorious in the first place, with jokes here and there like Mark singing “I wanna see some naked dudes, that’s why I built this pool” as an “intro” to one of the songs.
I was hooked right from the opening track “Cynical,” and was increasingly pleased as the album progressed. You can really hear how their musicianship has grown throughout the years. Barker’s drumming is intense and on point throughout. Hoppus’ bass playing and vocals are just as solid as they were during Blink’s hay day. And I’ve been a long-time fan of Skiba who was able to bring his solid guitar work and fantastic vocals to the band while not making it sound like an Alkaline Trio album.
I feel like the track “She’s Out of Her Mind” is very relatable to those of us who were in high school during the early naughties. With a line in the chorus like “She’s got a black shirt, black skirt, and Bauhaus stuck in her head,” I was brought right back to that time as not only myself, but several guys I knew, were dating girls who fit that description perfectly.
There are some misses,of course, like the track “Los Angeles,” but all in all “California” is a solid album that shows the bands maturity out of the “Pop Punk” genre, while still maintaining the same energy and upbeat sound of their early days. Out of all the fantastic albums that have been released so far this year, this one is definitely making my top 5 list.
But that’s a different article all together now, isn’t it?
Anyway, give this album a listen through (if you have already) and let me know what you think! Blink 182 was such an influential band to me growing up, that I could talk about them all day.