Blink 182’s “Neighborhoods” was a sweet reunion album for the band after a 6 year hiatus, with it having been 8 years since their last album in 2003. The album had some fantastic songs. Their sound was the matured sound of a punk band out of the 90’s. But there were a few songs that weren’t all that great and didn’t fit into the overall vibe of Neighborhoods well. “California” will be remembered very differently.
The bands dropping of Tom Delonge was heartbreaking for longtime fans, but it seems that former Alkaline Trio member Matt Skiba has breathed new life into the band during California’s studio time. His vocals and guitars are an invaluable addition. There was a lot of friction with the band’s original trio back in 2011 when Neighborhoods dropped, and a lot of the album, uncharacteristically of past albums, was written and produced without the band actually being together in the same studio. Interviews with newly formed band point to a writing process that was the exact opposite. The change seems to have made all of the difference.
Each song on “California” is anthemic. “Bored To Death” is a great song to set the tone of the album, and a natural first single choice. Rabbit Hole is a perfect genre anthem. And I cannot stop listening to “Left Alone”, “No Future”, and “She’s Out of Her Mind” because they are just so damn catchy. Slower songs “Home is such a Lonely Place” and “California” feel like fresh changes of pace that add value to an mostly upbeat track list. Instrumentally interesting joke songs “Built this Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” bring back a fun prankster vibe the band hasn’t shown in an album since “Take off Your Pants and Jacket” in 2000.
Ignoring my bias as a diehard fan, I’ve genuinely found every song on “California” great in its own right, which I didn’t find with “Neighborhoods.” There is such a variety of flavor throughout the tracks that fits fantastically with the album. I like to think of the album as having a high floor and no ceiling for the enjoyability of each track.
Blink-182 has inspired an entire generation of wonderfully terrible garage bands, and influenced just about every alt/punk rock group from 1999 onward. Their biggest hits are adored worldwide with nostalgia, and their fanbase is loyal to death. “California” expresses what the world loves about Blink. It proves that the band can maintain its glorious roots of a “shitty punk rock band”, still have the creativity and talent to grow, and still be irreplaceable legends of the rock scene.