Hang on, I hear you ask, didn’t they release this album last year? Well, yes, they did, yet at the same time, no, they didn’t.
While 2016’s California could be regarded as something of a misguided missile, this deluxe edition is a more focused piece. For better or worse, the vast majority of the songs here still have that distinctive Blink sound, yet they manage to contain a freshness that signals how the (new) trio are in 2017. Opening track Parking Lot moves along with a raw, almost visceral all-out rocker attitude, carrying a similar vibe to that of The Offspring. It’s a solid start to the record, although the chorus features somewhat stagnant lyrics of ‘fuck this place, let’s put up a parking lot’.
Misery boasts that distinct Blink sound down to a tee, in the form of a huge sing-along anthem. However, it’s disappointing that it ends just as you’re getting into the zone. Easily one of the superior songs on the album is Good Old Days, which has that energetic feel-good brightness about it, a song literally about the good old days, but the refusal of letting them simply be a thing of the past. It’s one of the more natural and finer lyrics on the album, which doesn’t suffer from the ham-fisted and badly placed generic rhymes that other songs are guilty of. Other tracks such as Wildfire and Bottom of the Ocean are largely forgettable, with the latter suffering from an overdose of baffling electronic sounds.
6 / 8 is named after the time signature it’s written in – very technical stuff here, folks. Those of us who are non-musical, or with the ability to perhaps strum a few chords, will be lost on this fact, but that’s irrelevant. The song itself is rather aggressive, with thumping almost militaristic drums, and for me, steals the crown as best of the batch. Can’t Get you More Pregnant is a complete waste of time, which is ironic considering at the tracks lasts for a pathetic 35 seconds. It’s just a random piece of unfunny humour set to badly performed and produced music. Oddly lumped on at the end of the record we find Bored to Death, which is taken from California (the original release), except that this is an acoustic rendition, so isn’t a new song at all. It’s a strange finale, but then in fairness that could sum up the entire release.
The pop-punk formula is hardly an eclectic mix, but if you happen to dig a meaty chorus with some powerful riffs then you’ll be more than satisfied here. Sometimes it feels that they’re trying just a little hard to get this new sound nailed, but by and large it works, giving the album an overall healthy replay value. Dark atmosphere seeps out of almost every one of the eleven new tracks, and Blink have clearly tried to do something different and modern, yet it’s not taking away from who they are, nor throwing away their unique vibes that they manage to nail so effortlessly. Lyrically the album is a mixed bag of clichés, from some poignant serious moments to downright ludicrous ‘joke songs.’ Blink 182 have always had an element of juvenile fun and humour about them and their music, but then there’s cases of needlessly jumping the shark, which is there for all to see on Can’t Get you More Pregnant.
The one thing that puzzles me about this collection of songs is why release this as a deluxe edition, which will no doubt confuse some of the general public? I don’t know all the ins and outs of why this deluxe version is so, but seriously, why not give the album a different title to avoid said confusion? Would it be such a bad thing to class it as a separate studio album? Perhaps a particular contractual obligation has a tight hold over them? I did some research in the hope of finding out, but unfortunately came up with a blank. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter a great deal, as the fan base will be aware of the album’s existence, but as for the casual fans, well, that’s where the confusion may set in and a potential sale is lost. All in all it’s not a bad record. When comparing to its predecessor (or is it the same album, only different?) some fans will no doubt find it superior, while others will be disappointed despite it having that oh-so-familiar Blink 182 charisma. It won’t set the world alight, but I’m sure you can find some enjoyment from this release.