For a band to replace their definitive singer is as tricky as transplant surgery. Find a compatible donor and you’ll prosper like Phil Collins’s Genesis; try a whole different vocal blood type and you’ll be biologically rejected like Ray Wilson’s Genesis.
Tom DeLonge’s nasal whine defined and set Blink-182 apart for the 23 on/off years until his departure last year. His replacement, Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, sings more like remaining bassist Mark Hoppus. Which tends to make California, Blink’s seventh album, sound like it was made by one of the countless bands inspired by these uncharacteristically troubled emo giants, rather than spouting direct from the source.
Tactically this calls for a back-to-basics approach. California collects 14 hook-drenched punk-pop barnstormers that both reflect nostalgically on their youthful vigours (Bored To Death, Kings Of The Weekend, San Diego) and revisit them impressively (Teenage Satellites, No Future). Add in a couple of puerile old-school Butt-headed comedy skits, plenty of booze-soaked, hi-octane thirtysomething regret, a song about falling in love with a nutter (She’s Out Of Her Mind) and an over-arching adoration of California that makes you think there’s been a hostile takeover by the Chili Peppers and, against the odds, you have a memorable consolidation of Blink’s mature latter era. Wild nights, lonely mornings, adult pains, teenage triumphs and pools full of naked dudes. Blink: we’ve missed it.