No, you didn’t fall into a time warp and end up in 2001; you’re just listening to Blink 182’s newest album.
Pop Punk prophets, Blink-182 are back in the new release section with California, their first album in half a decade. The difference this time is Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker are going at it without their charismatic co-frontman, Tom DeLonge.
Relationships between DeLonge and the rest of the band have been strained going all the way back to 2003’s self titled Blink-182. In DeLonge’s absence, Alkaline Trio singer, Matt Skiba has been recruited to take his place on vocals and guitar.
California kicks off on a dark note with “Cynical” and “Bored to Death” with Hoppus screaming about alienation and regret with Barker’s manic drumming matching his intensity.
From there, the album takes a very familiar turn with songs like “No Future” and “Sober” going all in on the 90’s pop punk nostalgia, capturing the problems of your average suburban teen. It’s also where the audience pandering takes full effect, since you know… none of these guys have been your average suburban teen since 1996. This leads to the sentiments on most of California ultimately coming off as forced and insincere. For some reason, I can’t buy songs about being mad at your girlfriends and getting really drunk written by grown men in their late 30’s.
30 second interludes like “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” are meant to serve as comic relief to lighten up the angsty tone of the album but come across as unnecessary and shoved in only to get a small laugh. (Naked guys are funny, right? It’s funny because of gay!)
The instrumentation on California takes a huge step back from the work done on Neighborhoods. Tom DeLonge’s departure from Blink has cast an enormous shadow over the band and this album specifically, so it feels like Hoppus and Barker decided to play it safe with the old “go with what you know” motif, instead of experimenting, like they did on Neighborhoods.
With California, Blink delivers a decent album with some feel-good bangers sure to make old fans extremely happy. But, if you’re expecting a continuation of the artistic growth that Neighborhoods started, I’m afraid it left with Tom.