20 years on, one member down, Blink-182 still sound fresh, youthful and somewhat nostalgic.
When Tom DeLonge left the pop-punk trio back in January 2015, the future of Blink-182 looked about as uncertain as the UK’s after the EU referendum. Indeed, DeLexit was welcomed just about as warmly as Brexit was. For some, DeLonge, was an integral component to the band, whilst some felt that his desire to evolve the traditional Blink-182 style were unnecessary and unwanted. In any case DeLonge’s differences with the band were apparent on the band’s last album Neighbourhoods, which was quite frankly a shambles of an album – it didn’t sound like a Blink-182 record, nor did it sound adventurous or ambitious.
Having recruited Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, the band has now released their first album as reformed Blink-182 trio. As a Blink fan, I admittedly took a deep breath before putting on the record – I had accredited much of what I loved about Blink-182 to DeLonge. DeLong’s whiney “where are you” verse from ‘I Miss You’ is perhaps my favourite Blink moment ever. Nevertheless, after over a decade without a decent Blink record, I was also hungry for more Blink material. As a result, I sat with my fingers crossed, hoping that California still embodied core Blink elements, even without DeLonge.
I’m pleased to report that after a couple of tracks, I sighed in relief – California actually sounds like an organic Blink album, somehow. ‘Cynical’, the album’s opening track is manic, chaotic and proves that the middle-aged rockers still possess the ecstatic energy that fuelled their teenage days. ‘Bored To Death’, the previously released single showed fans that the new Blink haven’t lost their spark. ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’ sounds a bit too much like ‘The Rock Show’, but that’s like criticising someone for sounding too much like Adele. ‘Los Angeles’ sounds a bit like a Weezer track, but that’s not a bad thing either. ‘Sober’ is probably the catchiest track on the album, with an abundance of “na-na-na”s triggering American Pie nostalgia.
In their formative days, Blink-182 also struck a chord with teenagers for their youthful silliness. Because the band had fantastic music to accompany their childish antics, Blink were charming, likeable and even funny at times. They achieved what The Offspring failed to do, presenting themselves as a not-so-serious band, with seriously good music. To a large extent, whilst the band’s average age may have matured, their loveable childish attitude hasn’t, and it’s still remarkably charming. “I want to see some naked dudes, that’s why I built this pool” is literally the only lyrics in the 16 second track “Built This Pool”, which is sandwiched within the album. When listening to the album, it certainly catches you unaware, leaving you chuckling, thinking, “wait what?”. The album’s closing track, ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’ is not a Queen rip off but a mere excuse to close the album with “there’s something about you that I can’t quite put my finger in.” It’s immature, incredibly silly and it’s typically Blink.
Whilst I certainly miss DeLonge’s presence on the album, California has so much charm and nostalgia that you somehow forget that he had nothing to do with it. Skiba doesn’t try to fill DeLonge’s shoes and nor should he, but yet somehow, the album still sounds like a traditional Blink one. Before you know it, the album’s over and you’re left thinking “oh yeah… DeLonge”.