As has been well documented, Tom Delonge is missing on California, and his absence is a glaring one on Blink 182’s seventh album. It has become evident that with Mark Hoppus pulling the strings, the band loses some of their dynamics. I love Alkaline Trio, but Matt Skiba doesn’t really work as a member of Blink 182. Alkaline Trio write sadboy trysts and that’s not what this album is. What this album tries to be is a love letter to the band’s home state.
Let’s start with first track “Cynical”: It’s short and to the point. It’s classic Blink with Hoppus lamenting over words not said and missed phone calls. I would like to point out this is a forty-year-old father writing this song. It has merits as an opener but feels lost in time.
Next is the album’s lead singer “Bored to Death”. I’m glad they introduced us to this song first because it may be the best of the album. Not only is it catchy and fun, but it does this while being slogged down by a familiar riff taken straight out of Enema of the State. This song also highlights a glaring problem in the album as a whole: Skiba is a good singer in his own right, but he sounds far too similar to Hoppus to truly add much to the vocal arrangement.
“She’s Out of Her Mind” and “Los Angeles” are throwaway tracks for sure. “Sober” and “California” are decent enough but somewhat flat songs co-written by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. The fifteen second long “Built This Pool” and 30 second long closer “Brohemian Rhapsody” are gag tracks and that really do not fit within the constructs of this album.
“No Future” sadly gives an adept description of what is in store for the band. Not in what the song says, but more in just the title itself. “Kings of the Weekend” suffers from just being really unoriginal and frankly lame. Perhaps the most interesting stretch of the album comes here with “Teenage Satellites” and “Left Alone” being a solid one-two punch which leads into “Rabbit Hole”, the second best song on the album and a likely contender for the album’s next single. It has classic Barker fills with enough cool riffing to really bring out the simple lyrical output. Likewise, the “whoa-oh” ending harkens back to everything amazing about pop-punk. It is a great little piece of music that ends a great trio of tracks.
I’m still uncertain why the song “San Diego” is titled as such. Although Blink formed in nearby Poway, in no way does the song bring anything in relation to the city it’s named after. It is vaguely hopeful for a “return” I suppose, but the town and title seem much more shoe-horned in. I think it’s safe to say that the intro to “The Only Thing That Matters” is Hoppus’ best work on the bass and it sounds very Take Your Off Pants-era. Skiba brings enough here to separate the song from the pack as an above- stellar piece within this package.
All in all, I think there’s only one real summation to be made on the whole about Blink and in particular, Delonge’s departure from the band and I think they said it best in one of the best songs they’ve ever written.