It was July of last year that the pop punk trio Blink-182 released their first album featuring Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, replacing the original guitarist and vocalist Tom DeLonge. Fast forward to now, we have been blessed with the deluxe edition of ‘California’. Featuring 11 new tracks as well as a beautiful acoustic version of ‘Bored To Death’. Although California was proven to be a success (it’s Grammy nomination shows that), it still seemed to be missing something. These new additions may be exactly what it needed.
There were a few problems with California, one being the simplicity of the lyrics throughout the album. Although it was rather exciting to see how Blink would cope with replacing one of their main members, it was clear to see that they lacked something with DeLonge’s absence. Although the riffs and overall vibe did bring back that nostalgic Blink-182 feeling, something that Neighborhoods did lack, there was a huge difference in creativity and lyrics between both albums. Which made me spectacle about what to expect with the deluxe version. However, turns out I had nothing to worry about.
The first track of the second disc, also the first single to be released, is ‘Parking Lot’. Again, this takes us back to that signature Blink sound, similar to what California already offered us. After all, most of the song is filled in with ‘na na na’s’, like the majority of the tracks featured on the original album. However, the boys really changed my opinion (and probably many others) after hearing ‘6/8’. Mentioning that this particular track was the ‘strangest they had ever recorded’, a good ‘strange’ I hope, as the song is also one of the best they have produced. Well, since Skiba’s been in the band that is. It’s aggressive, fast and different. Travis Barker really goes in on this particular track and both Skiba’s and Hoppus’ vocals work extremely well, something else that was also missing from the previous release of California. One of the reasons Blink worked so well, was mainly through the contrast between DeLonge’s nasally voice and Hoppus’ deep vocals. It was sometimes hard to determine who was singing when it came to Skiba and Hoppus, especially in their first release ‘Bored To Death’. Saying that, they’ve clearly managed to work out who’s vocals work best where, considering these new tracks.
One thing that you can be sure to expect from this album, is Skiba showing what he really has to offer, ‘Last Train Home’ is a good example. It feels as if Skiba really took the wheel with this one, the lyrics are dark, emotional and meaningful, for example: ‘the only time I feel alive is when I find something I would die for’. Once again, the vocals work beautifully together. There’s a distinct sound of Alkaline Trio that flows through most, if not all, of the new tracks such as this one and ‘Don’t Mean Anything’.
‘Bottom of the Ocean’ is another song featured that is a lot different to anything on California. The contrast and change between the slow areas of the song transforming to fast paced work extremely well, not to mention the hint of female vocals featured. A beautiful addition to an already great song.
Although this album is everything I and many other Blink fans have been waiting for, it’s a real shame the trio had to include another “joke” song amongst the new 11 tracks. That being ‘Can’t Get You Any More Pregnant’, which already by the name sounds rather ridiculous. One of the main downfalls of the last album was the short, ‘silly’ tracks, ‘Built This Pool’ and ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’ (admittedly, I rather enjoyed the latter, mainly for the riff). However, this new ‘comedic’ track is the worst out of the three. Extremely disappointing and not that funny (sorry). Although this is classic Blink, the fact that all three are 40+ and two even have children, these songs are outdated and rather boring.
While ending on a negative, the positives definitely outweigh the cons. There’s a part of me that wishes the Deluxe edition was its own album all together, but oh well. After what has been a tragic week for the music world giving the latest event in Manchester, it’s refreshing to have a reminder of what music is really about. As a Blink fan myself, this album gave me exactly what I needed which California didn’t provide me, and for that, thank you Blink-182.