Well, this is a familiar situation. Tom Delonge leaves Blink 182, so Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker recruit different members and make new music without Delonge. But, the difference this time is that instead of making a new Plus 44 album, they have brought in Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio and have decided to continue as Blink 182. So, is the first release of this new Blink era any good?
With their first new studio album since 2011 release Neighbourhoods, Blink 182 have continued with the musical growth they had shown on their self-titled release from 2003. They still have the fun, bouncy songs, but there are also the more thoughtful songs, which go beyond the surface. Also, for the first time in 15 years, the album has joke songs, which for a Blink fan, is very exciting indeed.
In terms of the album highlights, lead single Bored To Death is a fantastic song which demonstrates very well what this new era of Blink will sound like. Not so much a pop-punk song, but still a very solid rock song. Rabbit Hole is a far more punky effort and is one of the best tracks on the album, with a sing out loud chorus. Highlights also include She’s Out Of Her Mind, Los Angeles and Teenage Satellites.
While there is nothing bad on the album, there are some songs which do not quite hit the mark. No Future, California and Home Is Such A Lonely Place, while not being bad songs, do not leave any real impression. But as said, the album has no real bad points. It is just we know that Blink can do better, as shown by the rest of this album.
The other question is how well Matt Skiba fits this band. Anyone who has listened to Alkaline Trio will know that Skiba has a fantastic voice. If you have not listened to Alkaline Trio, that needs to change. But, Skiba is very different to Tom Delonge, so it was always going to be interesting to see how he fit the band. In short, he nails it. His guitar tone is almost identical to Delonge, but his voice is far better. As much as Delonge was a huge part of Blink, he never had the best voice. Skiba’s vocals are far cleaner and have more soul to them, compared to Delonge’s scratchy whine.
In terms of the other members, Mark Hoppus does what he also does, which means he provides great vocals and solid bass. The star though, unsurprisingly, is Travis Barker. Once again, he demonstrates why he is quite simply one of the best drummers in modern rock music. He is technically amazing and never misses a single beat.
Overall, California is a great album. It may not be the best album Blink 182 have ever made, but it is far from the worst. They have managed to replace a core member with arguably someone better and if this is the start of a new era for them, then it should be a great journey.