Blink-182 gives us a reinvigorated release of California after five years of absence and a notable departure of their original guitarist. With a determined sound to continue onward, their latest pop-punk release is set to put the band firmly back into the spotlight. The first few quietly sad bass strums of the opening “Cynical” cut short to an explosion of peerless drum technique, with crunched out guitars and vocal harmonies that make you believe that Blink 182 is truly back and more amped up than ever.
“Bored To Death” reaches out to be the timeless California highlight as bassist Mark Hoppus muses that “life is too short to last long,” buried in vocal harmonies of guitarist Matt Skiba and supporting violins while the band tries to make something more meaningful. The subtle background harmonies seems to rather make Hoppus more dominant in many of the tracks. Songs now sound a little less tongue-in-cheek and notably devoid of previous guitarist Tom DeLonge, further establishing emphasizing Skiba’s place in tracks like “Los Angeles” and “Sober.”
Skiba’s history fronting Alkaline Trio becomes more apparent in the full on acoustic ballad of “Home Is Such A Lonely Place,” fitting into dual vocal duties effortlessly in “Kings Of The Weekend” and “Teenage Satellites” without sounding like a foreign addition to a band that’s been going onward past 20 years. Plus the original members don’t sound half bad either with exceptional drum chops from Travis Barker in tracks like “Left Alone,” the opening “Cynical,” and the closing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
With the current lineup the band may still have an immature moment or two (refer to “Built This Pool”) but for the most part California sees a band forging forward on the vigor of the present. So when the title track plays, the tribute doesn’t feel out of place.