Today, Blink-one-eadie-twoah release their seventh studio album. Their seventh. ‘California’ is the epitome of a band unafraid to go down without a fight; the one still shouting for their pals to join them for a shot at 4am. And you’ve got to admire that. First taste ‘Bored to Death’ was way better than any of us had expected, igniting a sense of hope for a new era, an era – cover your ears – without Tom.
Blink-182 didn’t get here by just singing about blow jobs and poop the whole time. They know how to write a hook y’know? They know how to make the forever-teenager in you feel validated. And that’s a good thing. You see, Blink-182 have fundamentally never been cool. “We’ve always existed out of that [cool] reality,” Mark said in a 2010 interview. I truly believe that no one ever feels like they fit in and Blink-182 are the band that whisper “hey it’s okay that you fucked that up” and then tell a fart joke to make you feel better.
I don’t want to deter from their creativity though. A band that has both ‘Stay Together for the Kids’ and ‘Fuck A Dog’ on the same album deserves a standing ovation. You see, Blink-182 are pretty average musicians – okay, I’ll give you Travis – but the band as a whole, their package, their output, their entire thing shows three dudes who learnt a few chords writing some of the best pop songs of the past, woah, wait a minute, 20 years? Damn. They’re proof that if you work really hard at something, you may just get that cameo in American Pie that you’ve always wanted.
Perhaps the first glimpse of a “grown-up” Blink-182 was their self-titled record from 2003. It saw a band refine their sound, moving away from producing a couple of hit singles to producing an album as a whole. Granted, it was one of their most successful in terms of hit singles but listen to that album from start to finish and that’s a band who’s telling a story, unafraid to take creative risks. And hello! They got Robert Smith on it. If that’s not endorsement of a good fuckin’ album then I don’t know what is.
Just like any band who’s been around for 20ish years, there are of course, the eternal cries of “they were better before” and sure, there is a sense of Mark not letting this Blink baby go down without a fight but can we just sit back and calm the fuck down? ‘Neighborhoods’ really wasn’t that bad you guys; it was actually pretty good. It’s refreshing to see a band that stays true to themselves and evolves without heading into the cliched electronic phase of their careers (hiya Busted).
And that leaves us here: the first Blink-182 album without Tom. Gasp! I know I’ve pretty much brushed over what this means for the band but can we set aside our butthurtedness for just a sec and stop covering ‘Bored to Death’ with Tom vocals. Seriously, this album isn’t about him. If we don’t stop prodding Blink-182 with our internet fingers of ‘where’s Tom tho’, this record doesn’t stand a chance.
‘California’ is a step in a refreshing, unknown direction that needs its own platform. It’s an album that is both for the fans and also, not for them at all – it’s proof that if a band really want to keep going, they can do it whichever way they want. And hey! If you really can’t get over the whole Tom thing, you don’t have to listen to it. It’s okay, they’ll understand (and not care, no matter how many YouTube comments you leave). If we can treat ‘California’ as its own thing then I guarantee that we – and Blink-182 – will be all the better for it.
Blink-182’s new album ‘California’ is out now. Taken from the July issue of Dork – order a copy here.