Review Summary: The Soundtrack to an Immature Life....still?
Do you remember back in 1999? The world was supposed to end at the turn of the new year, Bill Clinton was on trial because he had a thing for interns, and a pop-punk trio from California was starting to make a name for themselves. Well, here we are, eleven years later and a lot has changed. That pop-punk trio has since released four other albums, broken up, gotten back together, toured the world, and inspired an entirely new generation of pop-punk artists. Of course that trio is none other than the infamous and always immature, blink-182. This album, Enema of the State, was their first record with Travis Barker and the record that put them on the map and cemented them as pop-punk legends, and in reality it’s just some immature, high school crap, but it truly is some good crap.
Let’s take a closer look at this album. Like any record it does have some flaws. Obviously critics of the band would point out the generally immature lyrics and simple instrumentation of this record, save for Barker’s drums because he is essentially a demi-god when it comes to the kit. But instead of just being generic and saying that Tom plays the same three chords and Mark only uses four notes on bass, like every person in the world who wants to critique blink’s work, lets get a little more personal. It’s true that Tom and Mark are not overly creative with their instruments but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the band or this record. The real issue that comes up on this album is lyric writing. Alien’s Exist is a perfect example of why blink broke up. This song is basically a precursor for Tom’s later work with Angels & Airwaves. Alien’s Exist is a weird, childish song that doesn’t fit in with the rest of this record. The running theme through most of the album is your basic diet of high school and college age problems, while Alien’s Exist is your basic, bizarre Tom Delonge song. Another song that takes away from the album is, dare I say it, All the Small Things. Yes, yes I know, this track is possibly the biggest song of blink’s career and that is really a shame. While all of blink’s music is infused with a tasty dash of pop sensibility, All the Small Things could damn near pass for a Hanson song (…hooray for ‘90’s references…). This album wouldn’t be any worse off if that overplayed radio hit was absent from its repertoire.
Of course, for all the flaws this album may have, it has quite a few tasty licks on it as well. For starters, Travis Barker alone makes this album worthwhile. Nothing against Scott Raynor, but Barker just adds so much more to blink’s sound. Anyway, now that I’ve kissed Barker’s ass, let’s get onto the actual highlights of this album. The record does start out strong with Dumpweed, a quality, borderline misogynistic opener and Don’t Leave Me, one of the most enjoyable tracks of Hoppus’ career, despite its simplicity. Then, of course there’s Adam’s Song, where the immature guys who make fart jokes decide that they want to tackle the topic of suicide. This song should suck right? Nay, this is easily one of the best songs of blink’s career and one of the best vocal performances of Hoppus’. Another highlight of this album is Dysentery Gary. One of the rare Delonge songs that’s worth a listen, it’s funny, catchy, and has a real punk feel to it, while maintaining its obvious pop integrity. Another fun song on this album is The Party Song. This is a classic example of blink being blink. The song is fun, entertaining, simple, and, as a bonus, it has an ironic undertone, critiquing slutty girls, always a fun time. The rest of the album fits right in with these tracks, forming a type of soundtrack for the immature high school and college age kid.
At the end of the day, Enema of the State is a quality, enjoyable blink album. It may have its flaws but it more than makes up for them with the rest of the material on here. The truly interesting thing about this album is its staying power. The true test for a band or an album is how well they manage to stay relevant after they peak and this album has proved its relevance. Songs like All the Small Things and What’s My Age Again? still receive radio play over a decade after their release, that’s not bad for some immature, pop-punk crap. Teenagers are still listening to this album and saying, “Hey, this is stuff I can relate to!” and yes, they are that excited about it. All in all, this album is a true testament to a band which revolutionized a genre of music and continues to inspire fans everywhere.