After a lengthy delay, Blink-182 return with the help of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba in the new album California.
There are some bands that will get the excitement from a world full of music fans when news breaks that there is a return and new music is coming. For what seemed like an extremely long time, partly due to one of the band members holding up the recording progress for not being as committed to the group, Blink-182 has finally pushed forward and we have the band’s seventh full album California. Now with the accompaniment of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, there is a new vigor from the band to return to the sound and style that made them famous. After bringing in John Feldman on production the band recorded over 50 tracks to help capture the energy the band once had and make a return to form that Blink fans have loved.
In the world of pop-punk Blink-182 has been one of the few names who fans have regarded as sacred for not completely selling out or making an album filled with pandering and filler just to make the next paycheck. As time goes on, it still is a fear that a favorite of millions may succumb to that. But with a fresh face in the lineup and new producer in the studio, it could be the extra fuel to keep the machine going.
As for the goal of the new album, Mark Hoppus explained that they wanted to make an album that represented the band. After 18 hours days in the studio and dozens of recordings, it looks like they may have it. Mark Hoppus further explained: “We all wanted to write the best record that we could and everybody was really focused…It does feel like a new beginning. It feels like when we used to tour and sleep in the van because that’s all we wanted to do is play rock music.”
So with all the anticipation of a new band member and producer, it only leads to what will happen in California. Bored To Death was released back in April and over the past month songs have slowly been released by the band and through their label, all while being the first showing of a Blink-182 without one founding member.
Bored To Death in many ways proves how the band and sound has matured. While the original goal may have been to recapture the style and speed of their late 90’s outings, songs like Bored To Death sound more focused and thematic. They haven’t lost their edge but rather refined it. The track is highlighted by the bridge and chorus featuring the lyrics of “Life is too short to last long”. The guitar is quick but not overbearing and kept on the low tones and it matches the drum rolling until the buildup and higher chorus that creates a strong balance. It feels like the type of pop-punk that you play for your friends and not have to be laughed at like you would if you played a Simple Plan song.
One question I had going in was how much of an appearance would Matt Skiba had. While replacing Tom DeLong, it was unknown if he would be playing backup to Mark Hoppus or have equal standing. After listening to California it’s easy defined as the latter. The presence of Alkaline Trio mixed in with Blink-182 is an amazing pairing that adds a great voice for louder moments in a sequence of songs like Kings Of The Weekend, Teenage Satellites and Left Alone.
It’s hard to define this album as which songs are best as it feels more like sequences. Many of these tracks are quick as most punk songs truly are, but the songs do not feel short or incomplete. Everyone on board makes their impact known and once again there are stand out moments throughout the album by Travis Barker where the entire track is carried by every drum hit.
Through 16 tracks there are sequences of songs that will not carry your interest as much as others. After the first few opening songs it becomes a bit repetitive in the lower sound of tracks that feature a lot of bass and low chord guitar riffs. California doesn’t pick up until about half way through the album, but when that half way point hits you quickly are able to jump back into the pit and love what you are hearing.
After a massive change and what may seem like a personal blow to the band, it appears that they are capable of picking up and moving along just fine in terms of the music and their career. It’s another form of proof that the California boys have matured since the days of Dude Ranch and Enema Of The State. Overall, California is s strong showing that proves Blink-182 are still more than capable of being the flagbearer of pop-punk in 2016. Although the album will definitely have some tracks skipped upon later plays, there is still more than enough to satisfy any fan of the sub-genre and Blink.