California is the seventh studio album by American rock band Blink-182, released on July 1, 2016 through BMG. Produced by John Feldmann, it is the first album by the band to feature vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, who replaced former member Tom DeLonge. After touring and releasing the band’s sixth album Neighborhoods (2011), it became difficult for the trio to record new material, due to DeLonge’s various projects. After disagreements, the remaining members of the group—vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker—sought separation from DeLonge and recruited Skiba, best known as the frontman of rock band Alkaline Trio, in his place.
The album was recorded at Foxy Studios between January and March 2016 with Feldmann. He was the group’s first new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn. Prior to his involvement, the trio began writing together in September 2015 and completed dozens of songs. They decided to shelve them upon working with Feldmann to start fresh, and they proceeded to record another 28 songs; in all, the group recorded upwards of 50. The band, as well as Feldmann, would regularly spend 18 hours in the studio a day, aiming to start and complete multiple songs in that timeframe. The album’s title comes from the band’s home state of California, and its artwork was illustrated by the street artist D*Face.
The album debuted at number one in the US and several other countries, and was the group’s first domestic chart-topper in 15 years, and their first ever in the UK. In addition, its lead single, “Bored to Death“, became the group’s first number one single on any chart in a decade. California received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who complimented its throwback sound. The band have supported the album with a large headlining tour in North America and Europe alongside A Day to Remember, the All-American Rejects, and All Time Low.
Cynical—-I really was a bit apprehensive as to my expectations upon this release…but my fears have been quickly quashed at the first listen. This is melodic, contagious and seems like the same band that was always there. The vocal difference is only slightly different….but the mood and the power are the same as always…a fantastic way to kick off the release. Wonder what this song is about….hmmm?
Bored To Death—-The lead off single to this release, you notice the sound is not that different than Tom and Angel And Airwaves. The mood is pensive…layered and textured. The vocal is just outstanding…this is the blink I love. The contagious quality of the song is undeniable. This is superb. Powerful….melodic and intense.
She’s Out Of Her Mind—-A really nice bass line leads off the track but the vocal emerges sounding bright and melodic. I love the catchiness of every song….the pace is a bit slower…but the power from this trio is so damn infectious. This song has a bright, sunny feel to it that makes me long for warm sunny days and carefree afternoons just blasting music. Damn good!
Los Angeles—-With a slight jangly intro, the vocal comes at you from all directions…causing me some ear confusion. The chorus is of course a powerful and catchy affair….sucking you into the melody of the song. I just am not really crazy for the dual vocals that come from all directions….the song seems a bit confusing to me. Not a throwaway by any means though. The bridge is awesome!!!
Sober—-A huge drum introduces the song and the vocal reminds me of the old days…with lots of ‘uh’s’ and ‘nah nah’s’. The vocal is great….the chorus a huge sing a long affair that arenas will scream loud and clear back to the band. This is really nice….I like the new vocal direction…the whine has left the building.
Built This Pool—-Aggressive and fast from the onset…..this interlude is rather silly an unnecessary……onward…..
No Future—-Scaled down and a bit morose with Travis delivering a rather monotonous vocal at the onset, the chorus opens up the song and the vocal trade-off of vocals make the song sound huge and arena made. This is nice…but the sound seems a little thin….until the chorus and of course Travis…who continues to beat the hell out of his drums.Such a huge sing a long chorus!!!
Home Is Such A Lonely Place—-Slowing things way down and injecting a lot of atmosphere, this is damn catchy and touching. I love the slower version of this band when it is put in the right spot….adding some variety on the record and breaking it up a bit. I always say…song placement is everything. To me this is about perfect. I love the dual vocal…adding texture and a built in melody. Fantastic.
King Of The Weekend—-Big trademark drums and a introduction vocal from Matt builds the song up to a huge fast chorus that is punk infused with just enough of a pop element to appeal to everyone. Matt is a great vocal replacement….it seems hard to imagine Tom singing these songs…..this is catchy and damn infectious.
Teenage Satellites—-Powerful guitars yet a subtle melancholy vocal here…..then the chorus hits you with that undeniable Blink melody that begs for a DeLonge whine…lol. This is fantastic….a certain sunny element that makes you want to pull out all the old records and give them all a listen one after the other. Just a great song that conjures up many memories from its sound alone.
Left Alone—-A bit atmospheric at the onset, the bass guitar and drums lead off the song…and again, we are a bit confused by the sound of the song. The vocal seems confused to me…even the chorus…which is damn contagious seems a little under-whelming. I don’t hate this…but the mood of the song just seems very different.
Rabbit Hole—-Returning to a more hyper kinetic version of the band, this song has a great pace and delivery. The energy is amped all the way up and the drums control the entire pace of everything. There are some nice guitar squeals and a vocal trade off that really works here. This is classic stuff….fast…melodic and bright!
San Diego—-A nice jangly guitar introduces another slowed down track……the vocal a bit sad and mellow…until Matt enters and seems to magically amp up the song. This is another of those damn catchy arena ready songs that begs the audience to participate. I love the direction of the band….sounding fresh and re-invigorated but still maintain a true sound that they almost established for so many other bands.
The Only Thing That Matters—-A nice bass line opens the track and then Travis emerges with his hyper drums and takes the song off on a rip. The vocals are nice but a bit disjointed…the lyrics are great…lots of euphemisms. The band sounds so tight and rehearsed…..I really love this record!!!
California—-A lonely and introspective vocal begins the track….with swirls of music and an obvious lack of drums leave the song a bit empty for me. The mood is a bit dark and intense…the references on this record are remarkable….The Cure….wearing black…Marilyn Manson…etc….this is great.
****3/4 out of 5