Nostalgia is one hell of a drug, and Blink 182 used just the right dosage of it on California, the band’s seventh studio album, just released Friday July 1st. California manages to recapture the essence of pop-punk with its dynamic hooks, catchy lyrics, and upbeat tempos, and is revitalizing the genre one invigorating riff at a time. Produced and co-written by John Feldmann, the new album is exactly what fans of both the band and pop-punk needed. It’s fun and easy the way pop-punk is meant to be. While some fans may miss Tom DeLonge’s voice on the album, there’s no denying the uniqueness Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba brings to the table.
Musically the album sounds like the traditional Blink we all know and love, reminiscent of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and even Enema of the State to an extent. That’s not to say that this album is step backwards for the band since it’s sound is quite different from 2003’s self-titled album and 2011’s Neighborhoods, though. Think of California as more of a rebooted version of Blink 182. The dark tone and edginess of Skiba’s voice surprisingly meshes effortlessly well with Mark’s burliness. In fact, when listening to the 16 tracks you almost forget the youthfulness of Tom’s voice on the band’s previous albums because California has a more mature range about it.
While occasional tracks like “The Only Thing That Matters” no doubt sound like something left off a Trio album, they still manage to fit with the rest of the songs on the album. “She’s Out of Her Mind” and “Kings of the Weekend” will resonate with fans of Take of Your Pants and Jacket thanks to the songs’ memorable hooks that leave listeners bouncing on their feet like kangaroos on speed. “Sober” and “No Future” are equally appealing, but showcase the band’s more ripe sound with their new member more so because of Skiba’s outstanding vocals on each of the tracks. Truthfully, there is no bad song on this album. From the opening track, “Cynical,” which gets straight to the point by saying what we’ve all thought at some point or another with the lyrics, “what’s the point of saying sorry now? Lost my voice while fighting my way out,” to the successful single “Bored to Death” which tells of regret and exhaustion when Hoppus sings, “it’s a long way back from 17/the whispers turn into a scream,” all the way to the other well-crafted songs on the album like “Teenage Satellites,” “Left Alone,” “Rabbit Hole,” and “San Diego,” California delivers one attractive melody and raging riff after another.
If I had to choose a standout track on this album, though, it would have to be “Home is Such a Lonely Place” because while some may see it as being a copycat version of 2003’s “I Miss You,” it’s actually a different type of song entirely. Yes, they both take the slowed down approach to get serious in their messages, but “Home is Such a Lonely Place” feels like more of a Blink song. Aside from being flawlessly done lyrically and musically, Hoppus and Skiba’s vocals perfectly complement one another on this track without trying to upstage the other. It’s not one simply supporting the other. The song works because of both voices. There’s a raw vulnerability in the song that I think will speak to fans in the simplest and purest form, and will no doubt be a favorite if performed live.
The allure California will have on its listeners is a no brainer. Each track has its own charm to it, forcing the bubblegum choruses to be stuck in your head like commercial jingles on steroids. What’ll surprise most, though, is how enjoyable those bubblegum choruses actually are. Nostalgia hangs over this album without weighing it down and dragging from the band’s past. While certain songs are certainly throwbacks to previous albums, the overall feel is more reflective than anything else. This is a band who have matured and who have brought with them a much more developed sound. The band’s rejuvenation should be applauded, as they have successfully done what so many bands fail to do. Blink 182 has recreated what was once at the core of pop-punk by providing fans with an album that reignites the flame once thought to have burnt out. Long live the golden age of Blink 182 and the pop-punk revolution.