In the midst of 2015 Blink 182 announced the possibility of a new album, and with that some other startling news- longtime guitarist Tom DeLonge parted ways with the band for good! Our favorite three piece was losing not only half of the writers of the band, but also probably one of the most prolific frontmen in the history of pop punk. The band was left with quite the conundrum.
Who will replace Tom?!
To most of the world’s collective surprise, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio fame took the spot of DeLonge. Many fans of the band were split down the middle as to whether this was a positive turning point for the band, or whether Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker were trying to keep the project on life support.
As a long time fan of the band since sophomore/junior year of high school (yes I was a late bloomer, don’t you judge me), I was heavily annoyed at the news of a new album, as well as the band replacing someone so iconic. Even if Tom has had a streak of being quite the “dick” when it comes to the future of Blink-182.
Well after months of touring with Skiba, whom many have given outwardly positive reviews in replacing Tom, the band has announced a new album California, and has released a new track, “Bored To Death”.
I have to say, I am heavily underwhelmed. This track feels like it’s trying way too hard to call back to blink fans from the peak of their popularity (Enema Of The State), while combining that sound with the more modern and alternative rock aesthetic of their Self Titled album and Neighborhoods. The intro is most definitely a call back to “Adam’s Song”, which also featured the vocals of Mark Hoppus. But sadly Hoppus’s writing is not as strong as that track with some of the most absurd on-purpose lyrics I’ve ever heard in a Blink-182 song:
- “there’s a tiger hanging from a tree?”
- “Rescuing a Nightmare from a dream?”
- “The voices in my head are always screaming?”
If you thought “I Miss You” was over the top and whiny, then you’ll most certainly feel that way about this song. The verses are pretentious, and feel like they’re trying way too hard to come off as sensitive and poetic. The instrumentation behind this is mediocre at best, and the mixing of the guitar and drums are done very poorly. You can hear almost everything else overtop, including the extremely reverb-y vocals of Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba (a problem I will get to later).
The chorus of this song is once again, another call back to the yesteryears of Enema and Take Off You Pants And Jacket, but sadly has even more absurdly pretentious lyrics. The mixing is even shittier here, as Hoppus’ voice completely suffocates any other instrument underneath it, as well as Skiba’s harmonies sounding almost the exact same as Mark’s.
Which draws me to the next glaring issue of the song. Matt Skiba sounds almost identical to Hoppus in terms of range. Say what you want about Tom DeLonge’s singing, but whether or not you like his voice, DeLonge’s vocals are iconic. Tom’s nasally tenor and thick Californian accent are what separated his vocals from that of Mark’s harsh and high baritone.
Skiba may have been able to define his voice in Alkaline Trio, but on this track, specifically the second verse that he sings, It’s almost impossible to tell who’s singing what. The only way I was able to tell the difference, was the fact that his voice is much thinner than that of Mark’s and has way less reverb on it, making me wonder just how much time it took for this to get through production.
The bottom line of the track is that it’s boring, uninspired, and over all a complete mess. Yes I’m a bit biased in my love of older Blink 182, and lack of knowledge in Alkaline Trio and +44, but that’s exactly what this track feels like; +44 with Matt Skiba. I’m not saying that everything Tom does is a perfect monument to pop punk history (AVA is definitely not as good as Boxcar Racer, which even then is not as good as Enema or Blink 182 or Take Off Your Pants and Jacket).
This track is terrible, and every time I listen to it I get more and more annoyed. I’m extremely worried for the next few tracks they release. Hopefully California won’t be terrible, but given the circumstances regarding this track, I doubt that it will be a game changing record either.
I give “Bored To Death” 4 out of 10.