Blink 182’s first album after the split with original founding member Tom Delonge. Having replaced the former singer/guitarist with Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio the band has a different sound.
Skiba sharing vocals with original member and bassist Mark Hoppus has a different flow than Hoppus and Delonge. Delonge’s voice was very different from….well anyone. Where as Hoppus and Skiba sound much more similar. It creates a harmony that the band lacked before but also robs them of some of their originality.
That isn’t to say this album is bad. It isn’t. It has a similar sound to Hoppus’ side project band +44. I liked+44 and my favorite Blink songs were usually Hoppus’ anyway. And I love Alkaline Trio and Matt Skiba. All of that said, I do miss the contrasting vocals. That was a big part of Blink’s sound and while I certainly think It’s possible for the band to exist without Delonge I do think they need to add a member with a more contrasting voice if they want to create a truly stellar album.
My daughter (who turns 2 in October) disagrees however. She doesn’t like the older Blink albums at all but liked this one enough to fuss when I stopped playing it after my first listen through. So, I’m sure some people will feel that way as well. I would say especially if you were not a fan of Delonge’s voice but liked Blink musically then you would prefer this album (obviously).
Also absent from this album with the exception of one very short clip that seems almost like them making fun of themselves are the funny songs with crude references. Since those had been getting fewer and fewer for a while and this isn’t even the first album to be absent of them that isn’t really a shocker.
And as their fanbase have grown up with them I’m sure plenty of the fans don’t miss the crude references anymore than I do. I like the old songs but I dont feel the need to hear new songs that are similar. I am assuming the band feels the same.
The lyrics on this album are full of nostalgia though. Most songs drip with it. The band either misses the old days or feel like they are supposed to miss the old days. It doesn’t seem so much that they miss the things you’d expect from a band. You don’t get the feeling that they miss women and drugs and having no attachments so much as they miss the camaraderie that they had in their 20s.
And I’m really not sure they even miss it THAT much in the sense that they actually want to go back to that. More that they think they should. And they definitely seem to miss the friendships they use to have. Which could be in reference to the rift between Hoppus and Delonge.
Overall, California is a decent album. It’s perfectly listenable. It makes great road music. It is apparently toddler friendly (although my toddler also loves Slipknot and Rammstein so perhaps she isn’t the best judge of what is toddler friendly). I certainly recommend anyone that likesBlink or pop punk music to give it a listen.
It just ain’t the best Blink album ever. It also unfortunately isn’t good enough for people to not miss the departure of Delonge. I hold out hope that this follows a positive forward movement of a decent debut album and that the next post-Delonge Blink album is better.