Some may have thought it was time for blink-182 to bite the dust when Tom DeLonge left. Many were also, possibly as a consequence of the former, skeptical of Matt Skiba taking his place. The band has released its first material with Skiba at the microphone with the band's seventh album, California, proving that the band still has some life left in them, perhaps revitalized by the introduction of Skiba.
You don't have Blink without energy. Their pop punk and alternative rock flair made them who they were. After all they've been through in recent years and the divided response to 2011's attempts at innovation with Neighborhoods, the end would have seemed nigh for the band. California has breathed a new sense of life and longevity into the band, with the energy and life evident in their music.
The album begins with a quiet intro with 'Cynical' featuring clean guitar and Skiba's first studio contribution, before it kicks into a full-fledged lite punk rocker track, complete with the full short explosions of energy and rawness. To somewhat of a surprise, there aren't many moments like this on the album. The only other punk rock burst of energy found on the album is in the less-than average onslaught of 'The Only Thing That Matters'.
Much of the rest of the album is a more refined and mature alternative rock experience. Lead single 'Bored To Death' feels characteristically like a Blink-182 song. The band found the energy they struggled to keep over the last few records. That's what this album has that past efforts lacked - a sense of integrity. Several tracks feature the feel-good Blink sound, including 'No Future' and 'Teenage Satellites'. The album gives off lots of positive vibes, perfect for the summer and for a good old-fashioned jam.
This album isn't free of risk, though. There are moments in which the band takes an unexpected turn, some for the better, and some for the worse. 'Los Angeles' has a surprisingly dark sound that resolves itself into something with more optimism by its bridge, the end contrasting the beginning in an interesting fashion. There are some slower songs on the record as well, the peaceful 'Home Is Such A Lonely Place'. The band jams huge with rock vibes and big riffs in 'Kings Of The Weekend'. Title track 'California' bears a sense of thankfulness, giving the album an appropriate send off.
Other moments are just questionable. The inclusion of the short interludes such as 'Built This Pool' really throw off the flow of the record. The sing-a-long parts in 'Rabbit Hole' don't lend themselves to taking a weak track to a stronger height. Lyrically, this album has its moments, as well as its grand nosedives. Take the conclusion track, the horrendous 'Brohemian Rhapsody' (be honest, you knew nothing was coming out of this track from the second you read its title). Barring nothing but jarred powerchords and the single, utterly incredible line 'There's something about you I can't quite put my finger in,' this song might as well have dropped a bomb on the end of the record. After 'California' ended it on such a satisfying note, too... Other lyrical masterpieces on the album include 'She had a black shirt / Black shirt / With Bauhaus stuck in her head' from 'She's Out Of Her Mind' and ''We bought a one way ticket so we could go see The Cure and listen to our favorite songs in the parking lot" in 'San Diego'. Those two have melodies that nearly justify the words, but don't let them be completely overlooked.
California isn't another blink masterpiece. Nor is it a reinvention. It's a new beginning. Matt Skiba has breathed in a new life to the band. The band sounds and feels young again! They're a fresh new force on the field. Blink is here to stay.
Favorite Tracks: California, Los Angeles, Kings Of The Weekend
Least Favorite Tracks: Brohemian Rhapsody, Built This Pool, Rabbit Hole
Rating: 79 / 100