Review: Blink-182, California

Blink182

California is the seventh studio album by pop punk stalwarts Blink-182. It’s fair to say that the last 12 or 13 years haven’t exactly been smooth sailing after a hiatus between 2004 and 2008 after fall-outs and plane crashes followed by eight years that only yielded one album and an E.P.  thanks to Tom DeLonge busying himself with side projects and more in-fighting.

So, DeLonge leaves the band and is replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. How then, will the new album sound after all this upheaval and line-up changes?

Bloody awesome.

The bands eponymous 2003 album was made after tensions in the band had already come to a head and within a year the band had called it quits. The comeback album, Neighborhoods – released in 2011, was a musical progression, but was recorded in multiple locations and with the musicians playing their parts separately and it sounded like an album made by people who had been through the mill and not quite over it.

California is such a joyous sounding album compared to the meagre pickings from the last decade and a half, it’s easily the best offering since Take of Your Pants and Jacket in 2001. In fact it could be said that this is the follow-up album to ToYPaJ that Blink-182 should have been, but took the band to implode and reform to bring about. It sounds like the band are finally having fun again after all these years and that shedding the weight of DeLonge and bringing in the fresh talents of Skiba have completely regenerated Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker.

There are a lot of musical similarities with the intros of a lot of the songs to the band’s late 90s material but there is still a progressive shift including strings and electronic elements that became much more prominent in the latter albums. There is a definite Alkaline Trio-sounding influence from Skiba which gives an extra layer to the Blink-182 sound, in places he sounds a bit like DeLonge and in places he really takes the songs and makes them his own and this versatility also help with the range of the new songs.

The other thing that is a nice surprise is that the album has 16 tracks, I can’t remember the last new album I bought that had a decent amount of songs on it. However, two of these songs are around 30 seconds in length and are just joke entries, but this is something the band has steered clear of in recent times while they were taken in a more serious, po-faced direction by all the tumultuous goings on. It’s just nice to be reminded of the reason you fell in love with the band in the first place. Oh, and they also leave in Barker messing up a drum fill and a couple of other studio outtakes, which is also fun to hear.

Even the slowest song on the album, ‘Home is Such a Lonely Place’ is like a sequel to ‘Stay Together for the Kids’.

If I have to criticise it, and it’s not a perfect album, I would say that the opening song, ‘Cynical’, is too short to really set out the feel of things to come. Also a lot of the tracks are over-produced to the point where, in places, Hoppus and Skiba even sound like they’ve been auto-tuned. Which is fine, if it weren’t noticeable. The last criticism is that there aren’t enough songs, apparently, if Barker had his way there’d be nearly 20 tracks. as he felt that the fans had waited too long for content he was excited by.

However, all this means that the future seems bright and that there’s life in the old dog yet. Let’s just hope the addition of Skiba can work alongside his other bands, Alkaline Trio and The Sekrets.

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One Response to “Review: Blink-182, California”

  1. […] Finally, back to pop punk again: Blink-182 released their new album, California. Ant and Tom dissect the album element by element. For more reaction to the album, why not check out Tom's blog? […]

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