Blink fans were worried about what would happen after DeLexit, but the lads wasted no time filling Tom’s whiny Vans with another pop-punk heavyweight: Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. It seems they made a sound choice. Skiba can “na-na-na-na” with the best of them, has a “woh-ho” to rival Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and has found it a breeze writing songs with Hoppus and Barker. Eighteen of their creations have made it onto ‘California’.
And rest assured they’re still juvenile, fart-joke-loving mischief mongers, as the 30-second tracks about naked dudes (‘Built This Pool’) and fingering girls (‘Brohemian Rhapsody’) prove. But without the tensions of a difficult working relationship, they’ve also managed to recapture some of the early energy that was so obviously missing from their 2011 album ‘Neighborhoods’.
There are gems aplenty. ‘Bored To Death’ is a summer-anthem-to-be, and on ‘Home Is Such A Lonely Place’ Skiba proves he’s capable of sweet vocals not dissimilar to DeLonge on 2003’s ‘I Miss You’. The upbeat ‘She’s Out Of Her Mind’ will never leave your head.
The odes to their hometown don’t quite cut it, though, and ‘Los Angeles’, ‘San Diego’ and ‘California’ all sound cheesy and dated. When you hear lyrics like “Living in the perfect weather /Spending time inside together /Hey, here’s to you California”, you can’t help but cringe at the teenage vibes these middle-aged men still radiate.
But the main points Blink had to prove with this record were: that they could write without DeLonge, and that his distinctive voice wasn’t the glue holding all the parts together. ‘California’ is too long, but has the humour, pace, emotion and huge choruses of a classic Blink record. Mission accomplished.