Reading festival 2014, Blink 182 are onstage performing their headline set, it is a car crash, a dick joke telling, out of tune, embarrassing car crash. Those who attended that year or saw the footage later and who are in possession of a working set of ears and complete control of their faculties will attest to that.
Fast forward to July 2016 and Blink 182 have done the unthinkable and made the comeback no one, let alone me, expected them to make, sans 1 bat-shit, conspiracy theory spouting front man with pitching issues. It is one of THE albums of their career.
California is incredible from a genre perspective. Blink are at that comfortable point in their reinvigorated career where they don’t have to make this much effort, they could have farted out an album one tenth as good as this and still brought the dollars rolling in, and that’s the important distinction here, they needed to make this album for themselves.
The inclusion of Matt Skiba in the band has been an absolute revelation that can not be denied. In listening to the difference his inclusion has made to the band, it is now more abundantly clear as to where their problems were situated for the last 2, admittedly, disjointed albums, Mr Delonge. Skiba effortlessly gels with Mark & Travis, he just “works”. The vocal harmonies between Mark & Matt are some of the best i have ever heard in the genre, and that is saying quite a bit of a genre that hinges on its harmonies.
Listening to tracks like ‘No Future’, ‘Kings Of The Weekend’ and ‘Left Alone’ as examples, you can hear a band working in unison rather than pulling in different directions. I have no doubt all 3 with be future Blink live staples and classics in their own right.
There are few to no low points on the album, only tracks that don’t pop quite as much as the aforementioned. ‘Los Angeles’ and token slow song ‘Home Is Such A Lonely Place’ are both fine songs, great songs in fact, just not as good as the rest of the album in my opinion.
Blink being Blink, the humour they are known for is still very much present in the short but funny ‘Built This Pool’ and the amazingly titled ‘Brohemian Rhapsody’, still containing the bands innate ability to be offensive without offending, if that makes sense? there is no malice, just a cheap 47 seconds of giggles that will remind you why you love this band.
California as a whole is quite an achievement for a band that has had a turbulent and unsure 13 years or so as far as musical output goes, 2 albums that were good in their own ways but not quite right, not quite Blink. A quick band reshuffle and Blink 182 has come back with one of the albums of their career, up there with ‘Enema Of The State’ and ‘Take Off Your Pants & Jacket’ and i don’t say that lightly, it really is THAT good.
Blink 182 have earned the right to be quite smug right now, they’ve come out of a situation that would have destroyed any lesser band AND delivered a career best and a new bench mark for an ever-changing and adapting genre. Not bad for a band that once wrote an ode to an unsavory act with a dog.