Following the news that Tom Delonge would be leaving Blink-182 – again – to concentrate on other projects, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker could have accepted defeat and called it a day. Instead, they announced that friend and Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba would be stepping in for a while, just to play the shows that they had scheduled. Fans had their reservations – what if it didn’t work? Would their songs sound the same without that signature Delonge drawl?
So, when they released their first track with Skiba sharing vocal duty – Bored to Death – it was pleasantly surprising. Their previous album, 2011’s Neighborhoods was, well, alright, but it lacked something. After roping in John Feldmann – who has produced All Time Low, Good Charlotte and The Used, to name a few – the band released their seventh full length album, California, to baited breath.
The album itself doesn’t disappoint. For sixteen tracks (even if two of them are under a minute long of classic Blink-182 crude humour) they seem to have regained a bit of heart. What they were producing with Delonge was good, but it got to a point where you could almost tell that his heart wasn’t quite in it. The songs do have a completely different dynamic: Skiba’s voice is slightly closer in tone to Hoppus‘, but his smokier edge brings something new to songs that may not have worked with Delonge’s voice.
The album itself is closer in its sound to their 2003 self-titled record. It steers away slightly from classic pop-punk, and into more experimental territory. Although songs such as lead single Bored to Death and Rabbit Hole prove that Blink-182 are still the masters of their genre, tracks such as Los Angeles and California pull the album in a more mature direction – if Blink-182 could ever be mature.
Anyone who was skeptical about listening to Blink-182 minus Delonge should be reassured – this album lives up to expectations. California is everything you could have expected from a Blink-182 album: there’s pieces of pure pop-punk gold, a little bit of something different and some crude humour chucked in for good measure. Something that could have damaged the band massively – perhaps beyond repair this time – instead pushed them to make what might be some of their best music. It’s a triumphant return to form for the giants of pop-punk, and exactly what was needed to restore some faith back into Blink-182.
Standout Tracks: Bored to Death, Los Angeles, California
For Fans Of: All Time Low, Fall Out Boy
Written by: Emily Laws