Album Review: blink-182’s California

Album Review: blink-182s California

Liz Keller

By Liz Keller ’17, Arts and Entertainment Editor

One of punk rock’s most well-known bands returned to the scene this year. However, this is not the same blink-182 we’re all used to seeing. The band has gone through a serious lineup change since their last album. Original guitarist and co-lead-vocalist Tom DeLonge was replaced by vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. On July 1, 2016, blink-182 released their latest album, California, produced by John Feldmann, who has also produced All Time Low’s Future Hearts, Sleeping With Sirens’ Madness, and The Used’s Imaginary Enemy.

The album starts out with Cynical, which conveys the difficulty of getting back in the studio and writing an album after the departure of Tom DeLonge and the doubts of whether or not they could do it without him. During the song you can hear drummer Travis Barker’s “Ahh” since he thought he had messed up. The band had insisted on playing all the songs on the album in one take; that was take three. It’s the perfect way to start off an album that easily could have never happened. Cynical is followed by Bored To Death, a catchy anthem telling listeners to make the most of life since it is “too short to last long.” She’s Out Of Her Mind is a classic pop-punk song, detailing love with a girl who is dealing with mental illness, and speaks to all those dealing with it, letting them know that even though they aren’t perfect, there can still be someone out there that loves them. Los Angeles is a little bit discordant musically, especially in the beginning before the drums and guitar pick up. According to producer John Feldmann, the song is the “darkest, heaviest, and most rebellious on the album.” The song is catchy and speaks of finding a new home in Los Angeles, and of the differences between the suburbs, that the members had grown up in, and the city.

The next song up is Sober, a song that was written with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump. Bassist and vocalist Mark Hoppus wrote the lyrics about falling in love with his wife, and struggles of being drunk and performing at the same time. The song is really about what it’s like to be in a band. The song is one of three on the album that features punk rock’s famous, and rather gratuitous, “na na na’s”. Built This Pool is by far one of the weirdest songs on the album. Only seventeen seconds long, it’s lyrics are simple. “Woo, woo I wanna see some naked dudes, That’s why I built this pool, Is that really it?” Mark Hoppus was building a pool at the time, so it was just a funny, real song to add to the album. No Future is a song that displays the earliest sentiments of punk rock: that we won’t do what you want and that we don’t believe in the government or in society. To me, No Future is an anthem for the kids that no one believes in, a statement to not let anyone hold you back from your dreams- not your friends, your parents, or what society says you should be doing with your life.

Home Is Such A Lonely Place is a change of pace on the otherwise fast-paced, though occasionally morose, record. The concept for the song is what are the lives of the members going to be like when their children aren’t home anymore. The concept was actually created by Mark Hoppus’s son Jack. The song is about wanting to have more time with your children, but still letting them grow up and be successful. Kings Of The Weekend is the “party song” on California. The instrumentation on the album, especially the guitar riffs, is a throwback to old-school punk rock, which will make any fan of the genre automatically feel at home. Teenage Satellites might seem like a weird song to have been written by a bunch of guys in their forties, but everyone was a teenager once, even if it was a long time ago. This song is the quintessential teenage experience, not knowing who you are, and caring too much about the opinions of others to say what you mean and talk about what you believe in.

Left Alone is a song that was driven home by Matt Skiba. It’s a song about losing yourself, and the desperation of the lyrics is conveyed by Matt Skiba’s drive to get the high notes. Rabbit Hole is a refusal to let yourself fall into a spiral of negative thoughts. The song is dominated by Travis Barker’s high energy playing which he did, of course, in one take. San Diego was a song that Mark Hoppus really didn’t want to write. It’s a remembrance of the place where blink-182 began but is also a song about Tom DeLonge. DeLonge still lives in San Diego and the song remembers the band’s past but also states that they can never go back, no matter how much they enjoy the sentimental feeling. The Only Thing That Matters is a high-energy, fast-paced, pop-punk love song. The song is such a throwback, and even if Mark Hoppus’s voice wasn’t instantly recognizable, you would be able to recognize the song as one of blink-182’s.

The title song, California, is about the band’s home in California. It talks about the American Dream: a house in suburbia with a wife and two kids. The song is about how lucky they have been to grow up here and raise a family in sunny California. The final song, Brohemian Rhapsody is also really weird. They had one line,  “There’s something about you that I just can’t put my finger in” and recorded the song, jacked up on caffeine, in about nine minutes.

Blink-182’s California is a roller-coaster of an album, ranging from classic punk and melancholy teenage anthems to party songs and witty one-liners. Bink-182 have truly mastered punk rock and the album has appeal for fans who have been with the band for the past twenty-four years or for those who are just finding them.