“And it’s a long way back from seventeen…”
Seventeen years ago, Blink-182 released what some say to be the most iconic Pop-Punk record of the last 20 years, ‘Enema of the State’. The album notoriously became linked to the adolescence of Generation Y, communicating the feelings of angst and hopelessness of teenagers all over the world. Selling over 15 million records, this album caused the explosion of the three piece on to the mainstream music scene. The band at the time consisted of front-men Tom Delonge and Mark Hoppus, with newly crowned drummer Travis Barker.
Since then they have sold 35 million records world-wide, released multiple award winning singles and arguably reinvented music videos with their own unique brand of satirical performing.
Blink-182 have also broken up twice. Most recently, the band split in January 2015 due to tension between Delonge and the other two members. As a result, Hoppus and Barker soon replaced Delonge with Matt Skiba, the vocalist and guitarist from Alkaline Trio.
‘Bored to Death’ marks the band’s first release in the post Delonge era and the first release from the band since the EP ‘Dogs Eating Dogs’ in late 2012. This single, and the release of their album ‘California’ (expected on July 1st) are the most anticipated releases in the band’s twenty year history. This release will be a strong indicator of what the future of the band holds, and whether this new ensemble can satisfy the lofty expectations of Blink fans without their much-loved founding member.
The intro riff of ‘Bored to Death’ would fool you that not much has changed since 1999. Its playful, simple notes makes you feel that it could almost be a remaster of ‘What’s My Age Again?’. However, reality says that we have to accept that despite similarities to their past works, Blink-182 are a different band. The new track continues Blink’s musical development before the band’s recent fallout. The new single, which grows on you with every listen, is more raw than most tracks found on their latest album ‘Neighbourhoods’. This is a key signifier of Delonge’s absence, as it appears the band has ditched the futuristic synths that they used throughout their most recent releases, which was a sound derived from Delonge’s side project Angels and Airwaves. Culling this aspect of Blink’s ‘new’ sound, the band appears to be going back to producing music similar to their self-titled album, but with a little bit more pop influence throughout.
The absence of Delonge’s vocals are obviously noted, and fans of Blink may be disappointed not to hear more of new member Matt Skiba singing in harmony with Hoppus. Skiba’s vocal role is minimal, and you would not be blamed for missing it completely. His yells during the chorus are the only real sign of Alkaline Trio member vocally, which could be an indicator of the band adopting a more conventional line up with a lead singer and a backing vocalist. How Hoppus and Skiba work together however, and the true consequences of the absence of Delonge’s iconic vocals will only be felt after the full compilation of tracks are released.
Lyrically, blink-182 continue to do what they do best, and that is produce music that expresses angst caused by social friction. Once more concerned with highlighting teenage problems within their music, the bands’ development has caused them to expand lyrically. Gone are the immature teenage anthems of “growing up” such as ‘Dammit’, replaced with songs such as “Bored to Death”, which lyrically, explores the themes of the discontentment with growing older. Hoppus sings that it’s “a long way back from seventeen”, and exhibits the bands fear of “fading fast” into the past. These changes are a somewhat natural development that has come with the band growing older, and musically it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their music still remains accessible, relatable and awfully catchy.
The release from the new-but-older Blink has proven that they are not yet dead and gone. The Blink-182 of 2016 has developed their sound, and it’s very different to that of former records. However, it doesn’t fail to entertain us. ‘Bored to Death’ is a track that, after multiple listens, will still excite you for the band’s future.
It may not be 1999 anymore, but 2016 does offer some promise for the future of Blink-182.
Blink-182’s much anticipated new album ‘California’ is due for release on July 1st. It will be the band’s seventh album release, their first since ‘Neighborhoods’ in 2011.