‘California’ is the newly released album from Blink-182 featuring Alkaline Trio member Matt Skiba, who became an official member of the band in July 2015. The album explores a new dynamic between Mark Hoppus and Skiba, which seems to resonate well and harmoniously in many of the tracks. And sure, Skiba’s presence does change the feel of the band slightly, but they’ve done pretty well in maintaining some of the authenticity from older days…
The single ‘Bored To Death’ is an example of this — it has the melancholy plucked guitar riffs, the semi-inspirational yet deprecating lyrics and colourful harmonies that make the band such a great listen. As a contrast, but still keeping with the authenticity from previous years, ‘Rabbit Hole’ and ‘The Only Thing That Matters’ do well to provide the energetic and playful feel that we all know and love, however we can’t help but miss Tom De Longe’s seemingly sarky and satirical undertones.
That being said, DeLonge’s departure was kind of necessary for Blink-182 to produce ‘California’ and retain some of the integrity that was left after the split. Of course a lot of fans have probably lost interest in the band due to this, but there are also many who remain faithful to the aesthetic that Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have preserved.
Musically speaking, it’s great to hear that tight, thrashing versatility that Barker brings to the band, but it isn’t hard to notice that some of the songs are lacking in artistic diversity – mainly on Skiba’s part. You might hear the opening riff to ‘Bored To Death’ and think it sounds a lot like the intro to ‘San Diego’. Well, that’s because it’s pretty much exactly the same. It’s no lie that the genre isn’t typically the most broad, regarding technique and composition, but recycling phrases in songs on the same album probably isn’t the best idea when you’re trying to the hearts of millions of fans who expect to hear great music!
In no way does this discredit Matt Skiba’s efforts in this record as a whole, he’s done a great job in filling the shoes of DeLonge and helped the other members continue with their art, but next time… don’t be lazy.
Overall, ‘California’ definitely has some tracks to add to the summer playlist and it’s got the fun feel that the fans have been missing for all this time, but it’s evident that the band may need to work on integrating Skiba’s talents in a slightly more progressive way in order to continue their path as 40-year-old pop-punks!