Blink 182 – ‘California’ Review

Posted: by Ryan Manns

Blink-182 has seen some ups and downs over the last decade plus of their history, including a few hiatuses, a break-up, a reformation, and now the replacement of front man Tom Delonge with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. I am a huge Blink fan, and if you’ve been following the release of this album closely as I have, you know that reactions to the singles released in advance of the album have been all over the place. Whether loved or hated, there’s no denying that this would be a dramatic statement piece of an album. So what did this new Blink-182 have to say?

The first thing that strikes me as the first few chords of “Cynical” ring in and accompany bassist Mark Hoppus’s soft voice, is that this song, this band, and this record, are all getting ready to explode, and in my opinion, they do. “Cynical” goes on to launch into a fast paced almost post-punk sound. The song really embodies the rest of the album for me, some good, some bad, some new, and some old, but certainly Blink-182 whether we like it or not.

Immediately after “Cynical” comes “Bored to Death” the records very first single. This is one of the best songs on the record. The riff that’s present throughout the song has to be heavily influenced by the bands previous hit “Adam’s Song” and the whole track sounds like a hit off their eponymous album. Its followed quickly by “She’s Out of Her Mind” a charming little number about what other than a girl who’s no good for you. This track, while not one of my personal favorites, is catchy, fun, upbeat, and is certainly a strong statement that Blink can still make the music that made them famous.

The next track “Los Angeles” signals the start of the more experimental part of the record. “Los Angeles” lacks that fun pop sound that we came to expect from Blink, but with risk comes reward. This song may not be on the radio, but man is it cool. Since when does Blink-182 make me feel like a badass?  “Sober” which follows “Los Angeles” is another great track. It’s slower than most of Blinks other hits, and sounds a bit more like something from Good Charlotte, but it sounds big, its catchy, the lyrics work with music really well, and its super singable.

After these two tracks, Blink reminds you who they are with “Built This Pool” a short nonsensical song about naked dudes. Then we roll into “No Future” one of the definite low points of the album. Specifically the bridge, what is with that awful howling noise coming out of Skiba? It sounds like he’s trying to sound terrible, which maybe I’m down for, but it really doesn’t fit with the rest of the album and seems really out of place in the Blink discography as a whole.

That transitions into “Home is Such a Lonely Place” a strange song that sticks out in a weird “feels like it should have been a bonus track rather than on the main album way.” The song’s structure itself seems conflicted, switching between hopeful and melancholy without warning.

The following two tracks “Kings of the Weekend” and “Teenage Satellites” start returning to the Blink pop-punk formula. Unfortunately, they remain relatively non-descript, definitely not bad, but nothing to brag about either. As the next song “Left alone” starts up, you may find yourself checking to make sure you’re not listening to an Angels and Airwaves album from 2007. Whether that is a good or bad thing I’ll leave up to you.

Ah yes “Rabbit Hole” I love this song. This is the kind of Blink that has been missing in my life for so long, the crowning achievement of this album. Its everything I wanted this album to be, and even though it’s the only song like it on the album it’s a flash of brilliance and even if it were the only thing I liked on the record, I would still buy it for this song.

Thankfully it isn’t the only one and “San Diego” makes a strong case for itself right after. Sad and sweet, this song really gets the drop right, it stops and starts in an interesting pattern and Hoppus and Skiba’s voice co-exist really nicely in this track. Determined to finish strong Blink hits you with “The only Thing that Matters”. Hoppus’ sick bass intro sets the quick pace for this song that remains catchy for its entirety.

Finally we get to the title track “California” which appears to be the bands love letter to their home state. There’s something about this song I really like, it sounds genuine, and while I don’t usually approve of violins in Blink-182 songs it works here as one of best ballads the band has ever done. Last but not least Blink finishes the album with “Brohemian Rhapsody” a track with an extremely familiar sounding guitar riff and some vulgar lyrics to leave fans wanting more.

The Verdict:

It’s definitely a Blink-182 album, and Matt Skiba fits in really well to their sound and style, even bringing a few new things to the table. The record is no masterpiece, but quite frankly it’s much better than I expected it to be. As a long time Blink fan, I was pleasantly surprised.


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