Release Date: Jul 1, 2016
Record label: BMG
It’s finally here! After a line-up reshuffle and 2011’s disappointing ‘Neighbourhoods’, the arrival of a new Blink-182 album is understandably approached with as much trepidation as excitement.Any worries are quickly dismissed with the likes of ‘Bored To Death’ and ‘No Future’ channelling the band’s self-titled era-esque ability to mix serious subject matter with the catchiest of earworms. Elsewhere they burrow even deeper into their history with speedy, fizzy punk numbers like ‘Cynical’ and ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’. There’s a sense of relief in them writing songs like this again and it feels like a celebration.However the Matt Skiba-shaped elephant in the room must be addressed.
Emo pop pioneers Blink-182 blast away the post-DeLonge blues For a band to replace their definitive singer is as tricky as transplant surgery. Find a compatible donor and you’ll prosper like Phil Collins’s Genesis; try a whole different vocal blood type and you’ll be biologically rejected like Ray Wilson’s Genesis. ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads .
After a stretch of uncertainty and stagnation, blink-182 returned with their seventh LP, California, their best in 15 years. The debut from "blink v3.0" features new guitarist Matt Skiba, the Alkaline Trio frontman who replaced founding member Tom DeLonge in 2015. Skiba joins Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker on an album that is both a return to form and an admirable maturation of the band's classic pop-punk sound.
California is another aging pop punk release from the kings of the genre. Whether or not that interests you is a different story. For the most part, Blink-182 is the only band who have been doing so consistently without too much experimentation.Much better than 2011â€™s Neighborhoods, it sees Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Alkaline Trioâ€™s Matt Skiba actually wanting to play music together.
There’s a theory, espoused by no one but me, that Tom DeLonge’s departure from Blink-182 happened way before 2015. In this version of events, DeLonge was abducted by aliens after the Blink hiatus of 2005 and replaced, The Last Starfighter-style, by a DeLongebot who has prowled the earth ever since. DeLongebot studied his doppelgänger hard, but if you listened closely there were tell-tale signs.
It's been almost 20 years since Blink-182 first blazed a pants-less trail across rock radio. But the pop-punk trio are still a generational touchstone: If you missed your junior prom because you passed out in the back of a rented limo while your date took off to hook up with the captain of the JV lacrosse team, Blink's mix of good-natured snottiness, teen-movie humor, fumbling vulnerability and Big Gulp tunefulness will forever move you in a way no art can. And even if you weren't on their wavelength, it's tough to argue against "All the Small Things" or "Rock Show" as grade-A bubble-thrash bangers – Green Day with the angst blunted just enough to make coming-of-age feel like a benign belly-flop rather than a suicide screed.
Blink-182 without Tom DeLonge: It’s a tempting proposition. When considering DeLonge’s role in Blink, your mind instantly goes to 2004 smash “I Miss You,” when a perfectly nice mid-tempo love song about nightmare angels and Halloween on Christmas is positively wrecking-balled by his eardrum-piercing introduction on the second verse: “WHERE ARE YEWWWWWWWW?!?!?” With DeLonge’s all-consuming megalomania reaching new heights through press stories of his recording-studio demands and efforts to take the band in gasp-worthy new directions — and yeah, the whole UFOs thing — it’s easy to conflate his presence in the trio with all of their most obnoxious instincts, and envision a much more digestible outfit built solely around the gonzo energy of drummer Travis Barker and McGrathian affability of co-frontman Mark Hoppus. If anything is to be learned from California, the group’s seventh album and first with Alkaline Trio yowler Matt Skiba in place of DeLonge, it’s that we might have taken Blink’s co-founder for granted.
Egos, public disputes and millions upon millions of records sold mean that the sun-kissed pop rock band Blink-182 now have more in common with Metallica in Some Kind of Monster than they do with the fun-loving skate punk band they once were. With Tom DeLonge seemingly gone to pursue aliens full-time, remaining members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker teamed up with the Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba in an attempt at returning to form.If anything, the Blink-182 on Neighborhoods suffered because they were too ambitious, attempting to cobble together a wide swath of ideas that didn't make sense together. On this long-awaited return, the band have remembered that it's best to keep things stupidly simple.
Much like a malcontent teen at a strip mall, killing a weekend's hours while nursing the pulpy dregs of a Jamba Juice, the internet has once again met the challenge of making something from almost nothing. This time, the subject of their dedication is a 16-second track from Blink-182’s seventh album, California called “Built This Pool.” Covers have been uploaded. Annotations have been cribbed.
Whether they meant to or not, Blink-182 paved the way for a new version of pop punk. Acts who wanted to emphasize the uplifting melodies of pop while yelling about life’s frustrations had a stencil they could follow — so the Joyce Manors and Modern Baseballs and All Time Lows did. Blink-182 perfected a new style, but singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge couldn’t seem to take it seriously anymore.
Arriving five years after their last album, Neighbourhoods, Blink-182’s seventh record has endured a development process as painful as the enemas the band used to gleefully reference in their late-90s heyday. Last year members Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker legally separated from guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge due to his unwillingness to record it, replacing him with Alkaline Trio vocalist Matt Skiba. The album’s promotional build-up, meanwhile, has been overshadowed by claims from DeLonge that he’s working with the US government on investigating UFOs.
That California even exists is something of a miracle. Just a few years ago, when Blink-182 were wrapped up in the in a very public stalemate—largely driven by founding guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge and his inability to commit to making the band his priority—it seemed quite possible we’d never get another album from the legendary pop-punk group again. But with DeLonge now on the sidelines (for how long is unknown, as he claims he’s still a member of the band and never tendered his resignation) and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba in the fold, it seems like bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker are back to something that’s been lacking in the Blink universe for the past few years: fun.
California is Blink-182’s home state and also its state of mind. For more than two decades, this band has made gleaming, sugary pop-punk about life without complications or consequences that could only truly grow in sunshine. That it has named its new album — its seventh, and first since 2011 — “California” feels like the sort of summation statement a band makes as it’s nearing its conclusion: here we were born, here we raged, here we will rage until the sun is no more.
But the main points Blink had to prove with this record were: that they could write without DeLonge, and that his distinctive voice wasn’t the glue holding all the parts together. ‘California’ is too long, but has the humour, pace, emotion and huge choruses of a classic Blink record. Mission accomplished. .
Love it or hate it, Blink-182 was always best when it was writing pop songs. Sure, data may claim that it’s the punkest band ever, but it was always putting emphasis on the first part of the pop-punk equation. After Tom DeLonge was kicked out—or left to work on alien-related projects for the government—Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba stepped in, proving to be an apt replacement for the band’s stargazing founding member.