California by blink-182 is Finally Out Now!
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California, the seventh studio album by American pop punk band blink-182, is finally out for purchase and streaming on iTunes and Spotify. Produced by John Feldmann, it’s the first album from the band to feature vocalist and guitarist Matt Skiba of punk rock band Alkaline Trio. He replaced longtime member Tom DeLonge in January 2015 after he exited the band.
California was recorded at Foxy Studios in Woodland Hills, California between January and March 2016 with Feldmann. He is blink-182’s first new producer since longtime collaborator Jerry Finn. Alongside Feldmann, the band would spend close to 18 hours in the studio per day, aiming to start and complete multiple songs in that timeframe. The end result is California, an infectious summertime album jam-packed with singalong vocals, poppy choruses, and plenty of potential for blink-182’s commercial resurgence.
blink-182’s sixth studio album, Neighborhoods (2011), was a rather dark record, featuring themes of isolation, confusion, and death. In comparison, California is much more upbeat and lighthearted. This record contains the catchiest tunes the band has written since their heyday. Matt Skiba’s vocals are definitely the highlight of the record—he brings the energy and vitality that blink-182 desperately needed. Moreover, even though the album definitely leans toward the “pop” instead of the “punk” in “pop punk”, there are traces of other musical sounds scattered throughout. Opening track “Cynical” is filled with the angst, frustration, and fast hooks that sound like classic blink-182. “Los Angeles” is arguably the darkest song on the album, featuring input from Fall Out Boy’s frontman Patrick Stump. “Home Is Such A Lonely Place” is a ballad with finger-picking guitars and orchestral strings. California also brings back blink-182’s penchant for joke songs—”Built This Pool” and “Brohemian Rhapsody” are both short, fun tunes that are sure to delight the band’s older fans.
However, as many longtime fans would tell you (including me), producer John Feldmann may have exerted too much influence on California. Several tracks on the record sound somewhat formulaic and overly commercialized, even for a band as big as blink-182. In the past, Feldmann has done production and songwriting for groups such as All Time Low, Panic! At The Disco, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Thus, California is another winning addition to his catalogue, but in the process, he may have removed too much of the character that made blink-182 the exemplar of pop punk music. Hopefully blink-182 regain more control over their signature sound in their future releases.
Every album has its strengths and weaknesses, and California is no exception. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance! If you’ve been searching for a sunny summertime album to blast in your car as you drive to the beach, look no further—California fulfills that role perfectly. Watch the music video for the lead single, “Bored to Death”, on YouTube below, and if you like what you hear, listening to the rest of California will definitely be worth it.