Returning with a new member on their roster, blink-182 deliver their seventh studio album, California. In place of guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge is Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba, who joins Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker for blink-182’s first album in five years.

‘California’ by Blink-182 Album Review

California meets the expectations in every way. It pays homage to the band’s home state and attempts a return to their golden age pop-punk style. The result is a 16-track-long record, which has no lack of great tracks, but despite its nuances starts to feel mundane and familiar.

Blink-182 are at their best when it comes to producing upbeat punk devoid of angst. Their sound is full of vitality and pumped-up energy. And even when they opt out for a more gloomy lyrical tone, the music may come across as misleading, or this might simply be a statement about the group’s philosophy — putting on a smile even when life is bitter. Lead single “Bored To Death” sounds like a classic blink-182, only submerged in regret and disappointment. This repurposing of a familiar soundscape with new thematic content is perhaps a sign of the band’s maturity. This track is so far the most successful example of an instant anthem, which has more to offer than what’s on the surface.

This kind of moodiness is echoed elsewhere on the album too. The title track, which is almost too easy to miss towards the end of the album, is a satirical depiction of California as a prison, which dials back the energy nearly to a balladic tone. Earlier “Home Is Such a Lonely Place” hints at a new emotional maturity, despite the lyrics feeling a little too cliché, while opener “Cynical” is one of the best tracks on the record, showcasing the collaborative vocal work by Skiba and Hoppus.

Although the record starts to feel empty and unbalanced and unfocused with tracks like “Los Angeles” and “San Diego,” which seem to do nothing more than fill up space, California has blink-182 exploring new nuances in their music and lyrics. It’s a strong return for the band, which has even more room for growing and maturing, but is certainly on the right track.

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