We’ve talked about it, we’ve thought about it, and now it’s finally here: blink-182 have released their new album, California. It’s the first record from the band to feature Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba and a real focus on Mark Hoppus as lead vocalist, and it marks an exciting new chapter for this seminal pop-punk band.
There have been a lot of expectations circling this release, with some hoping for a complete sound overhaul from the band to really cement their place as a new trio. Some, however, have held onto hopes that blink-182 will retain their staple sound and that this latest album will just be another addition to their much-loved pop-punk catalogue. The good news is that fans from both camps should be comfortably satisfied by California, as the 16-track record gives us a little bit of everything.
From album opener ‘Cynical’, we hear the hint of early blink-182 punk that takes us right back to the early days, and that carries on through to somewhat non-sensical lead single ‘Bored to Death’ which pushes that ‘90s punk apathy the likes of older Green Day. We hear the youthful fun of previous albums such as Take Off Your Pants and Jacket in the faster, spunkier ‘Rabbit Hole’ and the catchy “a-a-anti-social” upbeat of ‘She’s Out of Her Mind’, not to mention ‘Built This Pool’- a 17-second song about naked dudes that is just typical of these adorable pop-punk idiots that we want to cry with joy.
But it’s not all a thing of the past; there are moments of California that point to the future of blink-182. ‘Los Angeles’, for example, opts for a choppier, more discordant structure that diverts from the straight-forward pop-punk formula and allows Travis Barker to shine with its heavy drum beats. We can hear the influence of new member Matt Skiba in tracks such as ‘Left Alone’ and ‘Home is Such a Lonely Place’, both of which feature a darker, grittier vibe that we’ve heard from Alkaline Trio, as well as Skiba’s trademark vocal stretches. Title track ‘California’ is probably the most we hear blink-182 differ from the beaten path as a more mature, slower, alt-rock track that we haven’t really heard from the band before.
‘The Only Thing That Matters’ is the perfect example of what to expect from the new blink-182; it embodies fast bass and a pop-punk melody that screams of a basement punk band, while allowing Skiba’s vocal harmonies to show us another dynamic that we can’t help but love. After listening to the much-anticipated California, we feel safely reassured that we haven’t lost our favourite pop-punk band; we’ve just gained another great album.
California by blink-182 is out now via BMG.