• Dwelling on the past won't solve your tiring midlife crises - A review of Blink-182's "California"

    Blink-182 - California (2016)

    In the late nineties and the first years of the new millennium, North American pop punk bands like Blink-182, Good Charlotte, Green Day, Simple Plan, Sum 41 and the likes were extremely popular. Most of these bands started with light-hearted fun athems about partying at the weekend, living your first serious romantic relationships, hanging out with friends, finding your own identity and being on vacation. Since a lot of teenagers experienced and could identify with these topics, quite a lot of them listened to this type of music when I was in high school. These bands were always a good compromise among my different cliques. Some of my friends and myself rather listened to heavy metal while others prefered commercial rock, rap or pop Music. Bands like Blink-182 were vivid enough for the metal fans and still catchy enough for the mainstream fans and their albums were regularly spun during parties. I remember how I got together with my then-girlfriend at a private carnival celebration at my place while my friends and I were listening to a Green Day record more than ten years ago. But just as my friends and I got older, These pop punk bands became much more experimental, mature and serious. Blink-182's self-titled record was a highly diversified alternative rock album, Green Day created intellectual punk rock musicals, Good Charlotte opted for a more emotional approach with gothic stylistics and so on. Over the past few years, all these bands had more or less disappeared, gone on hiatus or released lukewarm records. These days, most of these bays have reunited and try to go back to the days of former glory with their new records after failed solo records where some band members tried to release cringeworthy electronic pop music or rap tapes that underline a worrying midlife crisis. Blink-182's "California" is a perfect example why all these bands fail at their attempts to turn back the clock.

    Instead of heading back to its more diverisfied, mature and profound material, Blink-182 goes back to its carefree spirit of the late nineties and sings about partying at the weekend, having fun with their girlfriends and discovering different places in California again. This was credible back when the band members were in their twenties and their fans teenagers but it doesn't fit at all to adults in their mid-forties and their fans in their twenties or thirties. Some of the band members of Blink-182 are divorced, so singing about hanging out with their girlfriends as if they were on a first date sounds laughable. Adults that haven't been in high school for nearly three decades sing about having fun at the weekend like teenagers who are going to party with their friends just doesn't fit. It's a serious case for a psychologist when adults in the second half of their lives still don't know who they really are and are looking for something to live for. The lyrics aren't honest, juvenile or nostalgic, they sound fake, retarded and even worrying. The childishly joyous "Yeah!", "Woo-hoo" and "Na-na-na" sing along parts in nearly every of the seventeen new songs even add to this. The band is repeating itself as if it was 1999 all over again and seems to be stuck in the past. Three tunes about differnet places in California are also exaggerated. Red Hot Chili Peppers keep also singing about California all the time and so do numerous West Coast rappers and maybe it's me but I don't get why people are so obsessed with their origins and this particular place. It all sounds chilidish to me and Blink-182 didn't do that before. I'm aware of the fact that compared to actual punk music, pop punk bands don't always need to write about profound social criticism but the lyrical are even extremely flat for a band of that type.

    Unfortunately, the music isn't any better. This album is filled with cheap sing-along passages, saccharine melodies without any oomph as well as repetitive and simplistic song structures where the band delivers cheap copies of its own successes of the past. The accurately titled "Bored to Death" starts with drum sound samples before actual instruments kick in and offer a strangely familiar riff leading to a chorus that desperatley tries to be epic, emotional and catchy but the entire tune sounds like a tame rehash of "Adam's Song" meets "Feeling This". The overtly enthusiastic "Rabbit Hole" feels like a cheap attempt at writing another ''What's My Age Again". The melodic up-tempo rocker "The Only Thing That Matters" recalls a less fleshed out variation of "Going Away to College". The short slapstick interlude "Built This Pool" with its ridicolous homoerotic lyrics sounds like a limited version of "Happy Holidays, You Bastard" but the same joke simply doesn't work twice. The cheesy ballad "Home Is Such a Lonely Place" reminds of "Stay Together for the Kids" minus the intensity and meaning of the original track. None of the new tracks adds anything new to the sound of the band but that would still be acceptable if the tracks were at least as good as the band's classic material but they definitely aren't. Those who hoped that the line-up change from Tom DeLonge to Matt Skiba would bring some new inspiration to the band are wrong since the new member sounds like an unspectacular copy of his predecessor.

    In the end, this album isn't bad but it's something I consider even worse, especially for a punk band. It's plain boring. This record is both tired and tiring. There isn't one single good songwriting idea on the entire release. I can only imagine extremely nostalgic fans that are sharing the band's midlife crises and want to be sixteen years old again buying this uninspired coaster. If you have the band's "Greatest Hits" compilation and maybe its most inspired studio effort "Blink-182", you own everything you need and shouldn't waste any further attention, money or time on this band or any other outdated and irrelevant pop punk band.

    Final rating: 2/10

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