The pandemonium surrounding last week’s blink-182 news should come as no surprise. Ever since the band’s reunion announcement at the 2009 Grammys, the collective pop punk masses have awaited the moment when the band would recapture the exhilaration of their heyday. The expectations are, and always will be, unfair, but that fact has done little to stop any of us from dreaming.
To be sure, the band’s new single, “Bored to Death”, sounds like everything fans wanted from blink-182 in the first place. From the song’s opening chords to its moody, atmospheric conclusion, the track is deeply familiar while still sounding fresh and relevant. It’s an exciting time to be a blink-182 fan, but only time will tell if the payoff is everything we want it to be.
I recently revisited my very positive 2011 review of Neighborhoods, the band’s first post-hiatus release and one that carried just as many high expectations. In hindsight, I disagree with almost everything I wrote – Neighborhoods is easily the blink-182 release that I listen to the least and the one that sounds the least familiar when I give it a spin. I’ve often wondered whether album reviews should be written at least a year after the release, but I also find myself pondering the impact of nostalgic excitement that accompanies these kinds of events. Speaking strictly in terms of wistfulness and rose-colored sentimentality, blink-182 has no peer.
Not only did the band end up headlining the pop punk revolution, their ascent perfectly aligned with a generation of kids wearily dreading the next step toward adulthood. In hindsight, it’s odd that such repetitive chord progressions and obnoxiously juvenile lyrics would stand the test of time, but there’s something strangely profound in that simplicity. All these years later, there’s still meaning to be found in a line like, “I guess this is growing up”.
Given the continued turmoil that has plagued blink for over a decade, the band members have had their own experiences with the pains of maturity. It’s odd then that the most promising facet of the band’s upcoming album, California, lies in the most unexpected of places. Just over a year after a fallout with guitarist Tom Delonge left fans wondering if there was any hope remaining for blink-182, the resounding feeling is that Tom’s replacement, Matt Skiba, is the best thing that could have happened to the band. There’s finally a new energy – and it appears to be a positive one for the first time in over a decade. The lingering discomfort surrounding Neighborhoods has largely vanished, opening the door for a world of new possibilities.
Regardless, it’s fairly safe to say that we’re all aware that California won’t impact our lives in the same way Enema of the State or Dude Ranch did, but a suitable summer soundtrack would delightfully suffice. We’ll play these songs on our commute to work instead of in the hallway by our locker during lunch break. With any luck, several songs will make us chuckle and smile, serving as a welcome reprieve from the icy disposition of Neighborhoods. Whatever we get, we’ll savor it in the moment, and that will be enough.
I guess my point is, I know well enough to approach this album with restraint and caution, dispelling any excitement with levelheaded truths from past experiences. But I know myself too well. In the weeks leading up to July 1, anticipation will take hold and my expectations will rise. I may even write a glowing review that I’ll regret years later. That’s part of the experience. Our nostalgia-driven view of blink-182 requires us to live in the moment, no matter the outcome. And that we shall do.
by Kiel Hauck
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.