Back to their roots but not as you know them, Bradley Shea takes a look at how the new look Blink 182 album sounds post DeLonge with the bands first release with Matt Akiba, ‘California’.
Author: Bradley Shea
In 1999, Blink 182 were on top of the world thanks to several high-charting singles from their critically acclaimed third album Enema of the State. Three friends from San Diego had managed to bring pop punk to the mainstream for the first time since Green Day dropped Dookie in 1994, but with each release the band grew further apart as their conflicting music tastes made making music together a chore.
Fast forward to 2016 and following a disappointing comeback album in the form of 2011’s Neighbourhoods, Blink 182 are back to take over the airwaves. Founding member and co-vocalist Tom DeLonge has since left/been kicked out of the band after repeatedly failing to meet deadlines in favour of chasing aliens in the desert – no, really – and Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame has stepped up to the mic in his place. It’s a creative decision that has done wonders for the band, their energy and enthusiasm fully on display across the 13 tracks that make up California.
About 40 seconds in to opening track ‘Cynical,’ it’s clear that Blink are fully embracing their roots and delivering what fans have been hoping for in the build up to the albums release. Travis Barker’s frantic beats provide a solid backbone for the band to build upon, and the bouncy riffs that were more prominent in their earlier work are at the forefront once again. First single ‘Bored to Death’ shows the band at their most epic as it blends their untitled 2003 album and with the earlier work, while ‘Sober’ proves to be the stand out track on the record, complete with a series of ‘na na na’s that will bury themselves in to your brain for days.
The addition of Skiba on vocal duty with long term member Mark Hoppus adds another dimension to the band that they had previously been lacking. His delivery is much more effective than DeLonge’s even if it does lack the nasal tone he made his trademark, and his presence will no doubt make Blink sound much more professional when playing these tracks live. Songs such as ‘Home Is Such A Lonely Place’ and ‘Left Alone’ show just how much the band have grown with Skiba in their ranks and by the time the closing notes on 30 second closer ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’ ring out, you’ll find yourself completely forgetting that DeLonge was ever a part of the band.
There are weaker moments, however, in particular the predictable ‘Kings of the Weekend’ which is a fun pop punk tune but lacks substance, and the Alkaline Trio-influenced verse of ‘Los Angeles.’ Skiba’s was always likely to bring aspects of his other band along for the ride with Blink, but while the chorus in this song soars, the trio never quite nail the tone they’re aiming for in the verses. Nevertheless, California is the best that Blink have sounded in years and cements their place in the annuls of the genre.
It’s good to have you back boys!
Recommended Tracks: ‘Sober,’ ‘Cynical,’ ‘Left Alone’