Album Review: Blink 182 – California (BMG)

So here we are…the new Blink 182 album, the first without original member, Tom Delonge following their public falling out. The remaining two, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker decided to carry on & recruited Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio.

I had my reservations from the start, you see Hoppus & Barker have had a non-Tom band before called +44 and it was distinctly average while Alkaline Trio have a strong fan base but they do little for me. For me Blink 182 needs Tom Delonge’s voice, the combination of his & Mark’s opposing voices made them unique but I still went into this record with an open mind.

The opening of Cynical is the worst start as it is the most +44 sounding intro possible, I hated it. Thankfully the song picks up with a more recognisable Blink 182 sound & speed, it’s got a nice rocky hook & the chorus, where Skiba comes into play, is surprisingly catchy.

Bored to Death, the released single is poor and instantly forgettable if it wasn’t for the drum beat that accompanies the chorus. A lazy & lengthy ‘whoa-oh-oh’ section does little to improve what is a chore of a song.

It’s a theme that runs right through the album, get used to the band going ‘whoa-oh-oh’, ‘yeah-yeah’ & ‘na-na-na-na’ instead of actually singing. Skiba does a lot of them too making it painfully obvious that they often didn’t have any ideas for how to get him in vocally. It’s a bit like Mark & Travis wrote a +44 album then added bits to try & make it sound like a Blink record.

To make matters worse, Hoppus does most of the singing and when Skiba does join in it’s rarely offering much different.

Los Angeles is the worst song on the album for me, it’s awful effects, horrible chorus and grating slow section make it impossible to pick even a fraction of the song that perked my ears up. Sober is an improvement, a slight improvement with a nice catchy riff but is very radio friendly (Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy guests on it).

The band try & capture some of that wacky Blink 182 behaviour that was evident on their early albums with the 16 second, Built This Pool. It’s pointless, a little embarrassing and adds nothing to the album, what it does do though is remind you that we’re all that bit much older…. cheers, Blink.

Home is Such a Lonely Place is a ballad, one that I expected to hate but actually ended up really liking. It’s soft and sorrowful tune added with a soaring chorus really makes it stand out from an album filled with average & bland sounding songs. Definitely one of the highlights of the album.

It’s not until Left Alone that things pick up again with a strong showing from Skiba on vocals. It’s a song that actually shows evolution within Blink 182, a future as a more pop-rock band leaving behind the silliness & punkier edge.

At 16 songs long, California is far too long and by time Rabbit Hole starts it’s really beginning to drag. Sure the songs are rarely longer than 3 minutes but there just isn’t that much variety in the music so it all starts to sound the same. I could have sworn I’d heard the same songs earlier on the album.

Nearing the end thankfully it really begins to pick up, San Diego is worth listening too because of the lyrical content, referencing the bands beginnings and their relationship with Tom Delonge. It’s quite a personal song, a rarity from Blink and really shows off an interesting, grown up side of Mark Hoppus. It’s a good song too with some great melody and strong vocals from Skiba.

The 15th song on the album (can you believe that!?), California is a really fascinating song, so unlike anything I’ve heard from Blink 182 and +44. A tribute to the state, it’s really catchy with fantastic melody that just emphasises the lyrical content. The combo of Hoppus & Skiba works so well here, they’ve saved the best until last only let down by more ‘na-na-na-na’ laziness.

The final song on the album is not even worth mentioning really, Brohemian Rhapsody is just a quick blast (30 seconds) that really should have been left on the cutting room floor. Not a strong finish.

Blink 182’s return is a hit & miss affair, when it’s good, it is really good but far too many songs of this overly long album fall flat and come across bland and boring. Uninspired is often a word that jumps to mind when listening to this.

Full Track List:

1. Cynical
2. Bored to Death
3. She’s Out of Her Mind
4. Los Angeles
5. Sober
6. Built This Pool
7. No Future
8. Home is Such a Lonely Place
9. Kings of the Weekend
10. Teenage Satellites
11. Left Alone
12. Rabbit Hole
13. San Diego
14. The Only Thing That Matters
15. California
16. Brohemian Rhapsody

Blink 182 - California (BMG)
  • The Final Score - 6/10
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