Review Summary: A pop-punk classic.1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Pop-punk is a genre that can be hard to get in to. A lot of the songs can sound the same to a lot of people. Most of the singers have incredibly annoying voices. Almost every song is really loud and the lyrics are immature. That being said, I love pop punk, for a lot of those reasons that people say is the reason they don’t like the genre. The annoying, high-pitched voice is not my favorite, but goes pretty well with the music. As for the immature lyrics, *** maturity. When you’re a teenager, why even bother trying to be mature? Who are you trying to impress? Kids that you’ll never see again after four years? Have fun with that. I’ll be myself and enjoy it, thank you very much.
This album does not suffer from the songs sounding similar, thanks to good songwriting and the introduction of Travis Barker. While the drumming on this album is not nearly as good as blink’s later stuff, it is a welcome change from Scott Raynor’s drumming. There is a reason that Travis was able to learn all of blink’s songs in a single day. He’s simply in a whole different class of drummer than Scott.
The album starts off with “Dumpweed”, a song that summarizes the entire album. With it’s incredibly fast beat, catchy guitar riff and lyrics, it’s a pretty strong track. Musically it is one of the stronger tracks on the album, thanks to the outro at the end where the band slows things down a bit, but still keep the energy. Next is “Don’t Leave Me”, which is Mark Hoppus’s favorite song. I have no clue why, though, considering it’s one of the weakest tracks on the album. The hook isn’t great, and there’s nothing special about the lyrics. Travis does good work as usual, but something is lacking to tie the whole track together.
Next is a triplet, of sorts. “Aliens Exist”, “Going Away to College”, and the hit single “What’s My Age Again?” all segue together. It is a surprising touch that shows a lot of thought went into the album, that the band didn’t just make songs and throw them together randomly. The first one starts out with some incredible drums from Travis, then goes into a simple, albeit ridiculously fast, beat only accompanied by bass and Tom singing about aliens. When playing live, the band changes some lyrics. Instead of “I got an injection of fear from the abduction,”, Tom sings, “I got an injection of fear from the erection,”. Also, at the end, Mark sings, “Tom has sex with guys,”. That basically tells you everything you need to know about his band. If you don’t think that’s hilarious, you probably won’t like blink-182. A definite highlight.
“Going Away to College” starts off softly, with simple, fast chords on the guitar, before getting into the core of the track. The riff in catchy enough, but not one of Tom’s best. The lyrics are about, well, a going off to college and how Mark will miss her. The highlight of the song is the bridge, which features an incredible drum-roll from Travis. Next is “What’s My Age Again?”, which features one of the greatest music videos of all time. If you have never seen it, go watch it when you’re done with the review. It starts off with a riff that is much simpler and much catchier than the previous track. Travis comes in on the high-hats. That style is one of the reasons why he’s one of my favorite drummers. The song is humorous, with lyrics like, “We started making out, then she took off her pants, but then I turned on the TV”. Technically the song is nothing special, but the overall composition makes it another highlight.
This brings us to “Dysentery Gary,”. This is one of the best pop punk songs even written. It opens with a really great riff on guitar, one of the best ever by blink. The drums are some of the best on the album. There is a musical section right before the chorus that features an odd percussion instrument, which works brilliantly. The lyrics are brilliantly angry, with lines like “*** this place, I lost the war, I hate you all, your mom’s a whore,” personifying the album perfectly.
What? A soft, slow song? What is this? “Adam’s Song” is, up to this point in their career, the most mature song blink had ever written. It even has a mature topic (suicide). The instruments are simple, creating a nice background to allow Mark’s lyrics to shine through and send a message. For me, the track is a little boring, but is a nice change of pace in the album, and is perfectly placed after the previous track. Next is blink-182’s most popular song ever written, “All the Small Things,”. This song is terribly overplayed. It is also one of the weaker tracks on the album. It’s decently catchy, but there are much catchier songs on the album. I understand why it was chosen as a single; I just don’t think it’s that great.
Next is another low point on the album, “The Party Song,”. The verse is pretty bad, with Mark spitting out average lyrics as fast as he can while nothing instrumentally noteworthy occurs. The chorus is much better musically, featuring some tom-tom work and powerful chords on guitar. The best part of the track is the very beginning, when Tom whispers, “Here we go mother***ers,”. This is followed by Mutt, the most blatant song on the album. No hidden meaning in this song, it’s purely about sex. It opens with a great drum intro from Travis, then a catchy bassline comes in. Lyrics like, “He wants to bone, this I know, she is ready to blow,” are the main point of the song.
The album closes with two strong tracks, “Wendy Clear” and “Anthem”. The former opens with a catchy riff, then the band starts jamming. Mark’s vocals are not very loud in the mix, and are easily lost. This song features one of the best lines on the album, “Well I play with fire to crack the ice,”. Musically this song is one of the strongest on the album, including a prominent bass-line in the second verse. It is followed by one of the best tracks on the album, “Anthem” Travis’s high-hat work in this song is mind-blowing. This track instrumentally is a level above the previous one, and the lyrics in this song, while immature, are also kind of serious. A good example of this is, “You don’t belong, you left the kids to carry on, you planned their fall.” The bridge softens things a bit, before the album ends with the band jamming out, just like it should.
In the end, this album is an essential album for anyone who is even slightly into pop-punk. Enema of the State is a landmark pop-punk album; it would go on to influence a lot of pop-punk bands in the new century. This was the first album by blink to be produced by the late Jerry Finn. His production helps separate this album from other great pop-punk albums and puts this one very close to the top.