With California, we have a rebooted Blink-182 deciding how to carry on after parting ways with co-lead-singer and guitarist Tom DeLonge. In many ways the album is very nostalgic and plays heavily to the music of the band’s Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket commercial glory days. However, do not be critical of this choice. The band is refinding its footing by going back to the sound that first made kids love them. California is an album made with an eye on the fans. Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and new member Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio-fame) knew that this album would be scrutinized to death, especially given the absence of DeLonge. Teaming with producer John Feldmann, they circled the wagons and delivered the most Blinky-sounding Blink-182 album they could muster. This concept may drive some cynicism among listeners. Fans will miss the Mark Hoppus-Tom DeLonge back and forth vocal deliveries, but when you focus on the songs, you realize that this record sounds like the Blink-182 that made you want to fall in love with the girl at the rock show. Also, Matt Skiba is no slouch. He may not have been the immediate obvious choice for a replacement for DeLonge, but he’s a pretty solid “step-dad” and shares similar musical roots to Barker and Hoppus. Skiba fills the DeLonge roll guitar-wise, but he sings like Matt Skiba.
Kick back and enjoy the early-2000’s throwback sounds of “She’s Out of Her Mind,” “Kings of the Weekend,” “No Future” and the lead single “Bored to Death.” The album hits a few less inspiring moments with “Rabbit Hole,” “Home Is Such a Lonely Place” and the title track. Goofy mini-tracks like “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” recall the sophomoric charm of old-school Blink-182. Keep an open mind. There is plenty of summer fun to be found on this record.
Essential tracks: “Bored to Death,” “She’s Out of Her Mind,” & “Kings of the Weekend.”