“DO YOU like Blink-182?”
The answer to this question demands another question. Are you asking 10-year-old me, or current me? Either way, the answer is, “Um... yeah, duh,” but for vastly different reasons.
Ten-year-old me adored Blink-182 because, well, I was 10. I had no context for their idiotic lyrics and predictable, pre-packaged angst when I was introduced to them in the era of 1999’s Enema of the State. In fact, I didn’t know what an enema was. Ten-year-old me was drinking off-brand Pepsi and bouncing along to “All the Small Things,” as the spastic trio impersonated the silk-shirt-clad boy bands I loved just as much.
When Take Off Your Pants and Jacket came out in 2001 I was primed and ready to be the girl at “The Rock Show,” and begged my parents to let me go see them on the Warped Tour. I was a pre-teen living in rural Oregon, but I bought a pair of green and pink Converse All Stars and wore them even when it snowed.
By 2003’s release of Blink-182’s self-titled album, those trademark song structures and punchy guitars had really taken hold. The tormenting ballad “I Miss You” made too much sense as first crushes came and went. That same year I fried my family’s desktop with LimeWire downloads of the Cure and Saves the Day, all because they were Blink-182 adjacent.
The band is the emblem of the dumb, bratty, California pop-punk that would inform my later teen years and future ex-boyfriends. Their angst, never-ending. Their genitals, blurred. Their tattoos, making me feel all the indescribable feels. Three grown-ass men writing jagged anthems about boners informed my adolescence.
Maybe I could have done better. But it’s undeniable that Blink-182 were the maestros for a brigade of universally digestible pop punk. Watching the band age—and the drama of Tom DeLonge’s less-than-amicable departure from the band to hunt aliens—is just another lesson in the shifting landscape of relationships and growing up. There’s no equal to DeLonge’s thorny nasal shout, but Matt Skiba, known best as the lead singer of Alkaline Trio, is as good a replacement as any. His musicianship is rooted in the same era of rollicking buzzy skater punk.
And while my expectations were low for the DeLonge-less California—a 16-song record released in July—I don’t hate the new album. Mostly because it still has the trademark leaf-rustling song openings, the same harmonies, chunky power chords, sharp drums, and repetitive whoa-whoa-whoa-ing bridges, all the parts that make up the whole of Blink-182. When I listen to California and pretend that I’m closer to 13 than 31, it makes all the sense in the world.
As I’m writing this, the best-case scenario is that Donald Trump will be runner-up for POTUS. A flood of assholes in South Carolina care which bathroom I use, and people are getting more jail time for marijuana possession than rape. When I’m scared and anxious about what the world has become, I try to remember that there was a time when my biggest worry was which two fingernails Carson Daly painted black, and what time Mark Hoppus’ pixelated junk would jog across the TRL countdown. The memories of those simpler times are why a 27-year-old can still like Blink-182.