“California” Proves That You Can’t Take the Tom Out of blink-182
Though the album succeeds sonically, older fans might struggle to embrace it.
By Rebecca Friou, University of New Orleans
I remember my older sister burning blink-182 CDs off her iTunes library and raving about them being the coolest music you could listen to.
Then, somewhere between The Format and Taylor Swift, my little nine-year-old ears heard the sweet sound of Tom DeLonge on our car stereo. Back in the glory days of the pop punk explosion and MTV advertising music, three young men came together in the suburbs of San Diego to form a band known as Blink.
Shortly after, they renamed themselves blink-182 to avoid a threatened lawsuit from the band Blink.
With bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, drummer Scott Raynor and the notable guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge, the trio quickly found prominence in both the music industry and angsty teenagers’ hand-me-down cars.
After a self released EP, two consecutive summers with Warped Tour and a couple more albums under their belt, they finally struck gold with the release of their third and fourth albums (1997-1998) entitled, “Dude Ranch” and “Enema of the State.” It was at this moment in time that their band forever impacted their fellow generation and those to come, as teenage girls all across the country blasted “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?”
Fast forward past the colored mohawks, pierced tongues, colored skinny jeans, garage bands in the suburbs of big cities across America and me, sniffling as I sit entranced in DeLonge’s vocal and lyrical glory.
After years of bandmate drama, momentary hiatuses and constant member replacements, blink-182 has finally made a comeback with their latest album, “California.” Now, I say comeback lightly. I acknowledge the sexual oddity of “Brohemian Rhapsody” (not to be confused with Queen’s classic hit) and the frequent mentions of California cities—hence the inspiration for the album title. However, I find it kind of hard for a band to remain an icon once the lead singer has been kicked out replaced. DeLonge’s voice was vital in making blink-182 an audacious band unafraid to be both satirical and sentimental to the sound of heavy bass and drums.
blink-182 officially replaced Delonge with Matt Skiba in 2015 which led to their album release on July 1, 2016. After taking some time to bask in their latest creation, I came to understand the simple and obvious truth: You can take the band out of Tom, but you can’t take Tom out of the band.
Of course, Skiba and his bandmates put sweat, blood and tears into making this album happen. You can hear the nostalgia written into, “It’s a long way back from 17,” in their single “Bored to Death.” They maintained their usual mocking mien with lyrics about their overpopulated hometown writing, “Hey here’s to you California/Beautiful haze of suburbia.” They apologize, saying “I’m a dandelion, you’re a four-leaf clover/But let me call you when I’m sober.”
The album is like returning to your hometown after being away for all those years— nothing’s changed at all, but everything is different.
With each turnover of blink-182’s bandmates comes a fresh sound with the same message: don’t take life too seriously.
In addition to be legendary, blink-182 is also an evolutionary group. They’ve gone through tragedies, addictions and feuds amongst their ever changing trio dynamic. But they’ve also sold millions of albums, toured across the world and made memories of a lifetime together. blink-182 remains a symbol for our generation by proving that despite the ups and downs of life, there is always an alternative to the bumps in the road.
“California” has proven that, just like when we were teenagers, the trio can still blow out car speakers and shatter eardrums. If you’re loyal, you’ll like it. If you’re a bandwagoner, perhaps not. But like I said, nothing’s changed but it’s different—and that’s the only thing that matters.