With their first studio album since 2011’s Neighborhoods, Blink-182 turns to the ultimate goldmine- the thing that has forever planted its dichotomy in the American romantic conscience, spawning generations of art dedicated to a promise. Blink takes it back home with sixteen songs hailing from their native California, the tracks as fast and precious as the idea itself. With Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio replacing Tom DeLonge on vocals, the album is a release of tension or, perhaps, its climax- either way, there’s definite resolution in the way it swivels back to the place it all began.
The record starts off with “Cynical,” which is exactly what it sounds like- a constant, throbbing question, hammered down for good measure by Travis Barker’s iconic drumming. The songs is still a teenage rumination, and hints at the fact that the rest of the album stays faithful to those roots rather than becoming a manifesto of middle age. “Bored to Death” is strong on the nostalgic front, with classic bass dropping from Mark Hoppus and an overall nonchalance. “She’s Out of Her Mind” is a little more along the lines of the previous “she’s” in pop punk- “antisocial, an angel,” and brings me to The Offspring’s “She’s Got Issues,” with the same tender loathing.
“Los Angeles” is one of my favorite tracks off the album, and allows me to get lost in a cliché I can’t avoid the truth of. The track, like the record as a whole, has a number of surprising twists and turns” unexpected alterations in the fabric of the song that underline, and perhaps preserve its freshness. “Kings of the Weekend,” falling a little over the halfway point of the album, is slow and loud, with power chords that respond to the little heart that belts out those lines about edging downward and losing control. “Rabbit Hole” is very self- aware, vowing to avoid the terrible sameness and rejecting the spiral while you can. It’s got Blink-182 confidence and the more you hear it, the more you believe it. “The Only Thing That Matters” is one of the most familiar tracks of the album- especially with, again, such a Hoppus bass line. The vocals here rise and fall like sirens to signify the next chord progression, with enough artful breaks to bind us to the moment without losing our place in it. “California,” the title track, comes at number fifteen, and it’s just the backhanded homage we expect it to be. And finally, we’re presented with “Brohemian Rhapsody” to top it all off- a maraschino cherry of a track that leaves us with its sweet, syrup conforming to the roof of our mouths like second nature.