blink_LEAD

Tom DeLonge has left Blink-182 and Alkaline Trio‘s Matt Skiba has filled the vacancy. Are you pumped? Saddened? Intrigued? Well, Blink’s new DeLonge-less record California is still pretty boilerplate pop-punk, but the change is still exciting. Skiba brings a more mature croon to the group, and even though their material is heavily aimed at youngsters, it just feels a little less snotty.

Cynical

The coolest part of this track is when Travis goes for the super-fast shred fill and bombs it, then does what every drummer does — stop playing and yell “aachhhh!” It aptly reflects the band’s mix of vulnerability and ‘fuck-it’ attitude on this less-than-two-minute track of blistering D-beats and catchy, raspy vocal hooks:

Cynical

Bored to Death

As one of the co-lead singles off this new Alkaline Blink album, “Bored…” has the semi-stark verses of an “Adam’s Song” and the bittersweetly triumphant half-time rockout chorus of a “Stay Together for the Kids.” That said, some of the lyrical cliches here turn into themselves a like Mobius strip of redundancy: [LISTEN]

Bored to Death

She’s Out of Her Mind

“The Girl at the Rock Show” gets a goth twist, and they throw in a Bauhaus reference or two too, for good measure. It’s, of course, catchy, but it’s starting to become apparent that the band is going to overuse the “Whoa-ohs” throughout this album. The half-time breakdown followed by the snare build (both Blink staples) are fun, though:

She's Out of Her Mind

Los Angeles

Now the album starts to divide the casual fans giving Blink another go and the ones in for the long haul. The band gets Travis to play a bunch of beats on drum kits both small and electric while singing about the tearing down of the “sixth street bridge” in LA. It’s like a Blink/Sublime-y take on RHCP lyricism, which isn’t particularly a compliment:

Los Angeles

Sober

Sid-and-Nancy romances are the theme, and the “dandelion/four leaf clover” line is on point. But, once again they rely too hard on “na na na na” sections. To add some new and fresh to the snare build on this one, we get some piano. Still, the tracks are already beginning to run together — I guess that’s pop-punk, though:

Sober

Built This Pool

It’s the boys’ first (literal) balls-out joke track in recent memory. At sixteen seconds long, the track is less wordy than this riff on it. Supposedly it’s the world record “shortest rock song ever,” but that might need some data to back it up:

Built This Pool

No Future

Music, not drugs, breh. That’s the message here for the main character over a catchy, yet predictable pop-punk jam filled with “na-na-nas” and the chords that have floated their whole career. Still, it’s good for what it is, and Skiba especially sounds great (just as Travis’ Gospel Chops-style shredding does): [LISTEN]

No Future

Home is Such a Lonely Place

Twinkling sounds played in reverse and a cutesy acoustic guitar give off a vibe that hints at Owl City levels of cheesiness. But, it’s a nice change of pace and this album (as well as their whole discog) makes no buts about their target audience being teenaged. It’s about empty-nest syndrome, but could really fit any lovesick dynamic:

Home is Such

Kings of the Weekend

This ‘live for the weekend’ party track almost got canned from the record, but they decided to keep it thanks to the main guitar riff; it was just too “classic” to ditch. Presumably it’s the half-time post-chorus/bridge riff they’re talking about, which is alright (and a standout here), but “classic” might be a stretch:

Kings of the Weekend

Teenage Satellites

The dudes once again use “teenage” shenanigans (like swimming in the neighbor’s pool) to show that mix of carefree youthfulness and angst. It’s explicitly geared to pubescents, but meant to reflect anyone’s feeling confused in their place in the world, as well as unsure of themselves and unable to really speak their mind:

Teenage Satellites

Left Alone

The ‘you hit me with your car’ and the ‘morning after revelations’ themes continue through this one, and Skiba’s vocal performance again shines. The chorus is fat and regal but dammit, this album needs far more tracks that don’t have “whoa-ohs” or “na-na-nas” (the former shows up again here). I know three-piece pop-punk is a super-limiting genre, but this is getting a bit ridiculous:

Left Alone

Rabbit Hole

This is some great emo-leaning pop-punk — it’s just made that much sadder with Tom DeLonge’s absence, and that his vocal replacement Matt Skiba sounds not only traditionally “better,” but also less snotty and a little moodier. It’d be easy to crucify this track in our decidedly anti-pop punk age, or as ‘not-real’ Blink, but this ‘rabbit hole’ of an insomnia track is worth descending into: [LISTEN]

Rabbit Hole

San Diego

So far, this is the only track that actually touches on the Tom drama. More broadly, it bemoans everyone that Mark left in San Diego. It’s a homesickness track for their hometown and their childhood friends. In other news, the big four chords are back in their most bald-faced use yet for this album, punctuated by “who-ohs” spelling them out:

San Diego

The Only Thing That Matters

The album’s most classic pop-punk track feels straight out of a ‘90’s beach parking lot show in SoCal. It’s got a love interest who is “the only thing that matters” in Mark’s life, as well as some knife-wielding drama, but it’s still a get in, rock, and get out track (clocking in at under two minutes):

The Only Thing That Matters

California

The title track is their take on Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes,” and even drops that phrase to point it out. It’s also a little more sentimental towards sunny “suburbia” than Reynolds’ biting satire. In typical Blink fashion, we get liberal use of pop-punk’s favorite four-chord progression, plenty of room for Travis to throw in some hand-foot patterns, and several “whoa-ohs” and “na na nas:”

California

Brohemian Rhapsody

Wrappin’ up the album is one more joke track, a one-liner with impeccable vocal harmonies and more ripping beats (and guitar solos) to add extra ironic epicness. The fact the album holds 16 tracks seemed daunting and cumbersome at first, until you realize a few would clock under a minute and vanish like a fart in the wind:

Brohemian Rhapsody