To think of a Blink 182 album without Tom DeLonge, is like thinking of Ant without Dec, or so we thought before hearing ‘California’, the first release to harbour the efforts of Matt Skiba. Delonge’s role in Blink was always a unique one with a voice few can recreate, but ‘California’ isn’t about recreating the past Blink 182 it’s about a rebirth.
Arriving five years since their last album ‘Neighbourhoods’ there was a lot riding on this album and while the overall feel of Blink is still present the whining vocals of co-frontman Delonge is missed slightly. You can really tell the addition of a new person into the creative mix as the 16 track album lacks a bit of focus, while each track has a likeable factor it mixes from cheery pop-punk such as ‘Kings of the Weekend’ to moody goth like alt-rock such as ‘Los Angeles’. At some points of the album it feels a bit too far away from Blink 182 for the band to still keep the name sake. Perhaps the presence of DeLonge and his tales of aliens invasions would have lightened things up, or at least livened them up.
Skiba wisely doesn’t try to fill the shoes of DeLonge throwing in some vocals throughout but generally taking a back seat to Hoppus giving fans a chance to ease themselves into the new band. When his vocals do make an appearance the harmonies with Hoppus work and the pair have seamless chemistry especially evident on ‘No Future’ where Barker’s skill set is also pushed into the lime light.
It’s also nice to see the juvenile mischief mongers side hasn’t completely gone despite the trio being in their forties.
The music created by the band has changed so much over the years we were never expecting the ‘na-na- na’s' of ‘Take Of Your Pants and Jacket’ or the tales of summers’ drinking and partying but something about ‘California’ is pretty catchy. ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’ has a cheery sing-a- long section and ‘Bored To Death’ is a summer anthem waiting to happen.
It’s also nice to see the juvenile mischief mongers side hasn’t completely gone despite the trio being in their forties. While 30-second tracks about naked dudes ‘Built This Pool’ and fingering girls ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’ it’s good to know they haven’t completely grown up. Being so short it’s easy to forget the fact that these are fathers singing about naked men and fingering women, something we’d cringe at if it was our dads. But tracks paying homage to their hometowns ‘San Diego’, ‘California’ and ‘Los Angeles’ have a very teenage vibe with lyrics such as “Living in the perfect weather / Spending time inside together / Hey, here’s to you California”.
‘California’ puts Blink 182 safely back on the road to regaining their pop-punk crowns and it’s full of stale jokes, half-baked lyrics and some over-produced harmonies. For many these reasons might be enough to cast the album aside but it’s the first album in a while showing Blink 182 heading in a direction we’re happy about.