blink-182 – California [Deluxe Edition]
Released: May 19th, 2017
Mark Hoppus – Bass/Vocals
Travis Barker – Drums
Matt Skiba – Guitar/Vocals
In the last episode (my review here)… blink-182 had released their much anticipated “comeback” album following the departure of Tom Delonge and the welcoming of Matt Skiba and much to my opinion, the album fell flat in regards to songwriting, riff simplicity and all around weakness (from everyone but drummer Travis Barker). However fast forward close to a year and we’ve been treated to the California [Deluxe Edition] featuring a further 11 New Songs + an acoustic version of first single ‘Bored to Death‘. Why it wasn’t released as a stand alone, follow up album I don’t know, but I guess these are the songs that were conceived when they guys teamed up with producer John Feldmann that were too good to throw away or too bad to put on their next album (which I’m guessing right now will sound a whole lot different to this era of the band).
But we all know the deal, it’s more
+44 blink-182 music we haven’t heard yet so I’m more than happy to jump on in and review the shit out of it so here we go… ‘Parking Lot‘ is the first track on Side 2 (and from memory the first new song they dropped?) and to be honest, when I first heard this one it sounded fun, catchy and drew me in with hints and elements of old school blink, dating back to their pre-Enema phase. I’ve recently grown a fondness for tambourines added to music (dunno why) and this song has it. It also isn’t short of the now overdone “na-na-na’s” which have ruined the original version of this album. Skiba sounds more like himself this time around and it’s easier to distinguish who is singing what. Its a positive start to what I hope to be a better listening experience. ‘Misery‘ is up next and (off subject for a second) for my day job, I’m a radio announcer for a commercial rock radio station in Brisbane, Australia… what’s that gotta do with the price of bulls in India you may ask? Well we’ve been pumping out this song as the band’s newest single and I get such a hard-on (not really) when I hit play on it every time. It starts off slow, taking it’s time to build up anticipation with Mark Hoppus taking over the lead vocals before he’s joined by Matt Skiba at a bridge which increases your motivation to uncontrollably sing “MISERY LOVES COMPANY, I DON’T NEED ANYONE” at the top of your lungs while you air drum away trying to replicate Travis Barker. It’s your stereotypical, upbeat pop-rock song that’s best listened to at high volume while you’re driving down the highway, forgetting your problems. Even though it’s almost 4 minutes in length, my only gripe is it doesn’t seem long enough, but I don’t know how they could have extended it anymore other than chucking in an out of place guitar solo? So I’m going to get rid of any negativity and give this one two thumbs up.
‘Good Old Days‘ brings back the synth again for cheesy ‘old man trying to hold onto youth’ anthem. Without going into details about the troubles they faced growing up, the lyrics throw away to experiences simplistically by stating “We go through hell, the battles we fought ’em, we stood as one, we’re young and forgotten” and “We’re giving up, we’re getting out, we were young and we’re not growing up” which is a contradiction as it completely goes against everything they stood for back in ‘Dammit‘ from 1997‘s Dude Ranch when they last stated “Well I guess this is growing up“. I don’t know about you but when a band sings about a part of their life you’d like to hear some sort of development, especially since it’s been 20 years since that standout album. To hear them not wanting to grow up, or reference any of the issues/problems they faced along the way (especially now that Tom’s gone), it kinda makes them lose respect for them for not sharing those moments with us through song. I know you’re thinking “Shut the fuck up you entitled piece of shit“, but when you hear a song like “Stay Together for the Kids” or even “Go” then to fast forward a few years and hear this? It’s kind of depressing. I loved the good old days of blink, I do NOT enjoy the song of the same name. ‘Don’t Mean Anything‘ starts off promising (it’s almost as if the band heard my issues with the last track and rectified the mistakes they made immediately) with Mark talking directly to his mother in the opening few seconds of the song which gives me the impression this is going to be a personal one and having lost my mother recently, I’m all ears taking in every word which hits me right in the feels… the song then leads us to an upbeat, happy/elated chorus which takes away those emotions that were brewing. I forget about it and go back to listening to the song as Matt Skiba takes control of the next verse which he directs towards his father and once again I’m hooked, listening to what he has to offer. Impressive is the word that comes to mind as he sings “Dear old Dad, I’m the one and only son you never had, I’ll be fine without you”, before moving onto the heartfelt, right in the feels line of “Late at night, I hear you grab your coat and car keys, you’ll be fine without me”. Its at this moment the chorus kicks back in and I get it. I still have those sad, empty emotions floating around my mind due to this song which is obviously about either leaving home or a parent walking out. It’s not as heavy as ‘STFTK’, but it still gets the point across from the perspective of the child involved.
‘Hey I’m Sorry‘ was actually an extra song on the Japanese Edition of California so it’s not new to me, however for those not in the know it’s a catchy, semi-motivational ballad that kicks arse. The tag teaming between Mark and Skiba sharing the vocals works perfectly and it is 100% pure pop-punk at it’s closeted emo best. Instead of “na-nah’s” we get “woah-ohh’s” which is the only downfall. ‘Last Train Home‘ caught me off guard because all I could think about during my first listen was ‘is that Jared Leto singing in parts?‘ It sounded at times like the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman had secretly joined the band in studio to lay down a few lines, but it was a muffled, whining from Matt Skiba. Travis Barker plays away in the background, almost as if he’s just jamming while the other two members put together something to give the song substance. The best part of the song I reckon are the lyrics “the only time I feel alive is when I find something I will die for“. It’s more poppy than punky and I’m torn between liking it and thinking it’s slightly out of place compared to what I’ve heard so far… Ahh now we finally get to ‘Wildfire‘. This one was released recently to fans with the tag line:
“Think of your favourite song from Enema of the State. Now think of your favourite song from California. Now imagine them falling in love and starting a family of their own. That’s what this song is.”
My favourite song from Enema was ‘Dumpweed‘ and my favourite from California was either ‘Cynical‘ or ‘California‘ so considering that, it’ll more of a three way and a fucked up family to grow up in! But in the opening bars I get what they’re saying, it’s fast, punk rocky and heart-pumping goodness, but as an obsessed blink fan, I’d say the opening riff is more akin to the love child of ‘Bored to Death‘ off California and ‘Anthem Part 2‘ from 2001‘s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket… Have a listen and tell me I’m wrong. That discrepancy aside, we’re finally back with the loud guitar wails and the build up, loud singing inducing chorus style heard back in ‘Misery‘. It’s good. One of the better songs on the album thus far. Moving on, ‘6/8‘ also came with it’s own tagline which stated:
“This is the strangest song blink have ever recorded. It’s in 6/8 time. It’s aggressive and one of our favourites from the deluxe because of it.”
They’re right, it’s a quick, borderline heavy track that takes you on an adventure of highs and lows. The quick singing is excellent and is complimented by a rough combination of Travis‘ bullshit good drumming skills and Skiba’s whiny distant singing. Think AFI with a touch of Box Car Racer and Mark Hoppus‘ angel like vocals and you’re pretty close to how this punk rock song sounds. It’s another big thumbs up from me though!
‘Long Lost Feeling‘ is a sappy, sad song without a lot of substance. The way it’s sung is when you have a mate that says they’re upset about something but deep down you know he/she doesn’t really care. It’s fake emotion with no connection in Mark’s voice to how he’s expressing it. I also don’t understand how the final words of the song fit into it… “Say goodbye until it hurts, stormy skies and fireworks?” Did they just look around the room and write what they saw? Sounds like they did. This one’s a miss. ‘Bottom of the Ocean‘ though flooded with old school blink-182 vibes. It brings a smile to my face to hear the similarities, whether it be the guitar scrapes, the furious drumming, the deep synth sounds towards the middle or the drop for the finale. I can see this being a fun one to play (and witness) at live shows. I’d personally like to skip this next song but since it’s a thorough review I’ll include it. ‘Can’t Get You More Pregnant‘ is a 35 second joke song that, like it’s sibling ‘Brohemian Rhapsody‘ from the original album, had so much potential to be a great punk rock song if it was given at least 3 more minutes. But once again a decent riff and drum track is wasted on a song who’s lyrics are nothing more than “I, I can’t get you more pregnant, but if you’re worried at all I can take care of myself, I can take care of myself”
Rounding out the Deluxe Edition is a Live acoustic version of popular single ‘Bored to Death‘ which, like it’s title, offers nothing additional to the experience and quite literally will send you to sleep, which is good if you need a lullaby, but you’re a 30 year old man and that kind of shit would be frowned upon…
So here we are, a collection of NEW blink-182 songs that are now added to the growing catalogue this band has produced, the only different this time around is most of the songs that were left off the album were so much better than the ones that made it. I don’t know who decided this, whether it be the band, producer (looking at you Feldy) or record company, but either way take out songs like ‘Rabbit Hole‘, ‘Home Is Such A Lonely Place‘ and ‘Built This Pool‘ and replace them with ‘6/8‘, ‘Misery‘ and ‘Don’t Mean Anything‘ and goddamn you’ve got yourself a collection of songs that’ll be hard to pick apart. The California [Deluxe Edition] is the definitive way to listen to this album in full and if you’ve left it until now to hear all these new songs for the first time, well you’re one lucky son-of-a-bitch who is in for a monstrous 28 song adventure that’ll mess with you mind, emotions and mental well-being if you’re as obsessed as I am with this band.
blink-182 – California [Deluxe Edition] tracklist
Vinyl 1 – Side A and B Track List
2. Bored To Death
3. She’s Out Her Mind
4. Los Angeles
6. Built This Pool
7. No Future
8. Home Is Such A Lonely Place
9. Kings Of The Weekend
10. Teenager Satellites
11. Left Along
12. Rabbit Hole
13. San Diego
14. The Only Thing That Matters
16. Brohemian Rhapsody
Vinyl 2 – Side A and B Track List – NEW MUSIC
- Parking Lot
- Good Old Days
- Don’t Mean Anything
- Hey I’m Sorry
- Last Train Home
- Long Lost Feeling
- Bottom of the Ocean
- Can’t Get You More Pregnant
- Bored to Death (Acoustic)
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