Blink 182

California

Written by: PP on 06/11/2016 23:36:02

So what all of us suspected turned out to be true. Tom DeLonge's lofty ambitions about writing space rock were the only thing that was keeping Blink 182 from writing another good record. "Neighborhoods" wasn't terrible, but compare it to the high-octane approach of "California" and the far better songwriting choices that the album presents, and it falls regrettably short. Even more so if you compare it to the hilarious fix'd version by Future Idiots. So, replace DeLonge with one of the most revered songwriters in punk rock, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio, and what do you get? That's an interesting question and the answer certainly isn't what most Blink fans hoped for: another Blink album in the vein of their earlier material.

Alas, you're going to be disappointed if that's your criteria for liking "California". The rest of us, however, can cherish the fact that we finally have a second +44 album on our hands. That's right, adding Skiba to the mix apparently has pushed Hoppus and Barker back towards "When Your Heart Stops Beating" stylistically - listen to "Home Is Such A Lonely Place" or "Left Alone", for instance. In practice, the record is much more melancholic and emotionally charged than any past Blink work, which when you think about it shouldn't come as a surprise considering Skiba's Alkaline Trio background.

Curiously enough, Skiba sounds eerily similar to Hoppus so if you're not fully paying attention it's easy to forget there are actually two distinct voices singing on the record. Then again, any Alkaline Trio fan will easily recognize the up-then-down chants of Skiba on, for example, "Sober" or his backup vocals during "Los Angeles" (the only cringe-worthy song on the record if you ask me). So while replacing one of the primary vocalists normally comes as a shock to any band, in this case, it's a smooth transition at least for those of us having listened to the +44 record back in the day.

As usual, Barker delivers the goods on drums in the background. "No Future" is one of the most inventive pop punk pieces you'll hear in terms of percussion given its inventive rhythm and technical flair. He adds the needed depth that helps the record maintain a level of consistency expected from a mainstream unit like these guys. That said, there are still a couple of goofball pieces like the 16-second "Built This Pool", where drummer Travis Barker can be heard asking, in the end, "is that really it?", or the 30-second album closer "Brohemian Rhapsody" that's a nostalgia nod towards the band's early days as a totally unserious outfit.

So what's the conclusion, then? The best songs on the record are opener "Cynical" with its high-tempo punk rock onslaught, and "Kings Of The Weekend" which is the perfect Alkaline Trio/+44 hybrid track. "Left Alone" leans heavily into +44 style songwriting, and

"San Diego" does the same towards Alkaline Trio. Both work fine. But what the record is missing is some truly monumental tracks that would leave behind an unforgettable impression. For now, the record is pretty good, and not easily comparable to the rest of the Blink back catalogue given how different it is sound wise - save for "The Only Thing That Matters" that is classic Blink through and through. But is it great? It's likely not one you'll be returning to next year. Plus at sixteen songs, it's just too long for a pop punk album.

Download: Cynical, Kings Of The Weekend, Sober, The Only Thing That Matters
For the fans of: +44, Alkaline Trio, Boxcar Racer
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.07.2016
BMG

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