The much awaited Blink 182 album California is finally here with new vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba from band Alkaline Trio helping to create a new but familiar sound.
By Jane Howkins
After months of anticipation, the latest album by American pop-punkers Blink 182 has arrived, and whilst there has been some controversy along the way (mostly due to ex guitarist/vocalist Tom Delonge leaving the band), they seem to have pulled through with California.
As most people probably know by now, Delonge was replaced by Matt Skiba from goth punk band Alkaline Trio, and numerous concerns were raised by critics and fans alike over this vast change to the group’s line-up. Delonge has a very distinctive voice, and Skiba’s vocal stylings are rather similar to the other vocalist in the band, Mark Hoppus. However, whilst California is certainly different to most Blink 182 offerings, it generally works, and at times seems more like a Blink record than their previous effort, Neighbourhood.
The band’s sound has changed noticeably over the years, and California reflects that suitably. Rabbit Hole takes a turn towards older albums like Dude Ranch, and Los Angeles (one of three songs named after a place on the album) features the dark sound that their untitled record from 2003 had. Nevertheless, the album mainly reflects the period in the middle of the two aforementioned albums, with the sound most resembling tracks from Enema Of The State and Take Off Your Pants And Jack It. Fans of those albums will notice a familiarity with songs like Brohemian Rhapsody (a very short song that showcases the band’s penchant for dirty humour) and She’s Out Of Her Mind, and while there is a safety to those songs, it’s a welcome safety.
One criticism that some have had of California is that it’s rather poppy, with the punk aspects side-lined. Whilst that is partially true (the auto-tune is noticeable at points and a couple of songs have choruses that could have been written for your average pop star), the band have never shied away from the pop aspects of their sound, and the guitars generally balance this out. The melodies and hooks are actually some of the best Blink 182 have ever produced, with favourable mentions going out to Left Alone and Sober. Skiba’s song writing and voice also complement Hoppus’ well, and those who were already fans of Alkaline Trio (a band people really ought to check out if they like this) will most likely find their faith in Skiba worthwhile.
For a band that have had so many issues over the past few years, this is a great comeback album. It may take some getting used to, but Blink 182 are definitely back with a bang!