Album Review: Blink-182 ‘California’

California

  1. Cynical
  2. Bored to Death
  3. She’s Out of Her Mind
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Sober
  6. We Built This Pool
  7. No Future
  8. Home Is Such a Lonely Place
  9. Kings of the Weekend
  10. Teenage Satellites
  11. Left Alone
  12. Rabbit Hole
  13. San Diego
  14. The Only Thing That Matters
  15. California
  16. Brohemian Rhapsody
Blink-182_-_Calfornia

Blink 182 returned with a new album, and a replacement for vocalist and guitarist, Tom DeLonge, in the form of Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio). It surprised a lot of us, for sure. When we were teenagers, you were either a Blink fan or an Alkaline Trio fan. We never imagined in a million years that the two would essentially become one…

The new lineup released their album California on July 1st. It was Blink 182’s seventh studio album, and their first for five years.

California kicks off with the punchy track Cynical, and it’s a welcome and triumphant return for the band. It has all the hallmarks of a Blink 182 track, but with a far more no nonsense attitude than one might expect. I wonder if the album is going to be continuing this train of thought, with less of the poop jokes and more about emotion, but I’m very wrong.

Bored to Death is the lead single, and follows quickly and with great pace. It sets the album into full swing, as they say. However, there isn’t much to say about it really. It’s a pop-punk, John Feldmann produced, upbeat track which sounds almost identical to another Blink 182 track from over a decade ago – Adam’s Song. I can’t decide if I like this direction or not. I think I would have liked to see something different, but then it’s quintessentially Blink, so why change it?

Los Angeles is a track I really didn’t like. Two-thirds of it are full of electronic sounds and interesting ideas, much diverted from other Blink songs, but they don’t sound right at all. Maybe if Matt Skiba had taken all of the vocals, or they had put it further into the middle of the record it would have fit in, and been a nice break, but as it stands, it sounds out of place and way over-produced. But that’s something I’ll get onto later.

Built This Pool and No Future are back to the sound of Blink 182 we had over fifteen years ago. Again, I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m left with musings more than anything. Did Matt Skiba ever imagine this is what he’s be doing in 2016; playing on a 16-second track with the line, “I wanna see some naked dudes”, bearing in mind that the person delivering this line is a man, happily married for fifteen years to a woman? I mean, maybe he does want to see naked dudes. Fair enough. But the context is a little lost on me, if I’m honest. I think it always was as far as Blink 182 are concerned. I’m used to these sorts of lyrics from Blink, but never quite understood why…

The biggest disappointment for me by far is the production. John Feldmann is a veteran at putting unnecessary vocals into good songs, and essentially ruining them. It’s harsh, but I am not a fan of any of his work. Goldfinger were fun as a live band, but Feldmann’s production is way over-the-top and even Travis Barker’s unrivalled percussion is lost underneath it.

All these guys are now in their 40s, and that’s cool as fuck. They want to make the music they are known for, they want to continue to appeal to a certain type of demographic, they want to make themselves laugh. And as the album goes on, I think I get it. At first, my 29 year-old self was thinking, ‘are they ever going to grow up?’ but the answer will always be ‘no’, and why should they? Just because their kids are now old enough to make their own dirty jokes, it doesn’t mean they have to stop. It makes the second listen through far more endearing.

This is evident in tracks Kings of the Weekend and Teenage Satellites. Skiba sings, “Let’s go and waste another year.” I find it quite inspiring actually. I’ve been thinking more and more about hitting 30, but I’m less terrified, thanks to Blink 182. It’s an ode to forgetting how old you are, and how mature you’re supposed to be, and that’s something I love to live by. Maybe we’ll all feel this way forever. Bring it on.

About The Author

Late 20s, married, British, bisexual with a tonne of sass, and sure opinion.
If I’m not writing, I’m working with a blues/garage rock band that I manage, or I’m creating and editing content on YouTube.
If you want to know more, just hit me up on Twitter, if only to enjoy my ridiculous profile pictures.

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