Album Review: Blink 182 – California by Mark Wong

Back in 2011 when Blink 182 announced they were back with a brand new album called Neighborhoods it looked promising that the San Diego trio had mended their fragmented friendships and were here to stay with us. However in 2016 when Blink 182 confirmed they were going to continue making music without co-founder Tom DeLonge, there were doubts that had me obsessing over how the end result would turn out.

California is the seventh album from Blink 182 and the first album to feature member Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio. Opening track Cynical begins with a few plucked bass notes and Hoppus’ lyrics “There’s a cynical feeling saying I should give up/You said everything you’ll ever say”. Once Barker makes his presence known through a fast drum fill and a scream in frustration, Cynical holds back no punches from this point onwards with it’s fast paced guitar power chords and drum patterns. Within the first two minutes of California, it is clearly evident that Blink have returned to their true musical form since 2001.

Album Review: Blink 182 – California

Bored to Death was the first single to be released from California. Before the first listen, there were thoughts of how Skiba would match up against DeLonge as a vocalist. However when Skiba delivers the chorus: “Save your breath/I’m nearly bored to death and fading fast”, it feels completely natural and you instantly disregard the idea of ever imagining DeLonge singing the counterparts to Hoppus’ lyrics.

From the opening bars of She’s Out of Her Mind, it’s playful guitar melody and dazzling upbeat atmosphere allows Blink 182 to go back to the mindset of their first albums. It re-injects the joyful spirit in the band that has been absent in their most recent albums. With its dark undertones and hip-hop influences, Los Angeles perfectly captures the gritty imagery of the city that is overlooked by so many as Los Angeles is more widely known for it’s fame, glamorous lifestyle and swaying palm trees.

California brings back the old school Blink 182 sound

While California brings back the old school Blink 182 sound, it also shines in being spontaneous. The 16 second interlude Built This Pool came about when Hoppus was fooling about in the studio with a riff and producer John Feldmann suggested recording it. Hoppus jokingly sings about the purpose of building a pool “I wanna see some naked dudes/That’s why I built this pool.” The interlude hilariously ends with Barker saying, “Is that really it?”

The mellow and calm Home Is Such A Lonely Place is based around Hoppus’ fear of when his son grows up and eventually moves away from home “It feels like the moon is spinning off into outer space without you/This room is such a lonely place without you”. On tracks like this Blink 182 show they are becoming more confident with the folk genre, and back in 2012 they wrote a Christmas song named Boxing Day in this style, which shows their progression.

San Diego is Blink 182’s most personal song to date

San Diego is arguably Blink 182’s most personal song to date. The track explores the broken relationship between bandmates Mark Hoppus & Tom DeLonge. It’s an emotionally gut wrenching song to listen to due to the way Hoppus carries the song lyrically “I can’t sleep cus what if I dream of going back to San Diego/We bought a one way ticket so we can go see The Cure and listen to our favourite songs in the parking lot.” Hoppus feels he can never return to his home city of San Diego as it makes it hard for him to accept the idea that his best friend is no longer in the band.

In conclusion, California is a love letter and a homage to San Diego as Blink 182 owe a lot to their home city as it put them on the map to become the pop punk legends that they are today. The one factor that makes California such a special addition to Blink’s back catalogue is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it instead allows us to have a really fun time and reminisce about the things we love most about Blink 182.