Blink-182’s sort-of-comeback album California is being re-released in July with about a dozen new songs. This Deluxe edition is the result of the band just never stopping in studio and recording almost twice as many tunes as necessary for an album. This may be due to an influx of creative energy resulting from the band finally finding solid footing given their new line-up. Or this may be the result of no one telling these pop-punk demi-gods ‘no.’ The flat, unimaginative nature of some of the songs on California begs the question whether or not anyone was brave enough to tell Mark Hoppus that he was being flat and unimaginative. After all, he is responsible for so many genre-defining albums. If he’s thus put in his time, can we let one or two sub-par records go? Hopefully, we won’t have to.
Obviously, this new record has a fair amount of pressure on it to be good. Given it’s position in the Blink discography, both iterations of California aim to revive a band that hasn’t been really, truly been relevant since the late nineties, early aughts (let’s ignore 2011’s Neighborhoods for now). Blink is a band of now-fathers, not feisty young teens as they once were. How aware are they of this change in status? Do they know that whatever they write will never be as good as Enema of the State or Take Off Your Pants and Jacket? In the same way that Green Day will never truly write another Dookie, Blink will never be that kind of good again. It’s not that they won’t write another successful record, rather that they won’t be pissed off and eighteen and trying to prove themselves to MTV ever again.
This hasn’t seemed to stop Blink from trying. Rather than taking the Green Day route of evolving beyond the standard teenage angst-fueled album and writing something different like American Idiot, they’re churning out songs that sound like your dad’s idea of what every fifteen year old will love. It’s not that Blink should have written a politically-driven rock opera, they just should have maybe tweaked the formula. However, not every song sags under the weight of this ambition. Despite the fact that the members of Blink are now in their forties, California managed to have several of those good ol’ fashioned pop punk anthems that the band was known for all those years ago, like “Left Alone”, “Teenage Satellites” and “Kings of the Weekend”. California also includes several skippable tracks and a handful of throw-away thirty-second quips a la Blink 182’s foul-mouthed “Family Reunion”.
The hope with this re-release is that the band will make good on their intent and truly reign in a second golden age of Blink. The first few songs off of Deluxe have been both hits and absolute misses. “Can’t Get You More Pregnant” is another quick, snippet that feels more like Blink fishing for a compliment and wanting to be called clever. It’s similar to “Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody”, but that style of joke when it came out was funny. Now, hearing similar humour from someone your dad’s age is kind of odd. The first few full-length tracks show more promise. From what we’ve seen released prior to the album, “Parking Lot” failed to impress, but “Misery” was better. “Hey I’m Sorry” plays it safe, paralleling to “California” off the original California and is generally inoffensive.
The most recent song “6/8” is the most adventurous. Upon releasing the track, the band commented that, “This is the strangest song blink have ever recorded. It’s in 6/8 time. It’s aggressive & one of our favorites from the deluxe because of it.” Title-wise it’s as creative as “MH 4.18.2011” off of Neighborhoods. Sonically, beyond just the excitement of a new time signature, “6/8” finds the band striking balance between their old fast-paced punk roots, their new vocalist, and their hopes to once again rule the genre. With stronger lyrics than most of California, it’s the first hint that Blink might be back to full strength.
Blink fan? Download dozens of Blink songs for free on the Trebel app for iPhone and Android!