Review Summary: Blink-182's third studio album is ridden with quality and catchy material and one very dark song that stands out.
To make an album charged with adolescent fury and yet be incredibly catchy is an idea that has been tried and accomplished numerous times. Nirvana are one example of a band that can seamlessly integrate rage at the world around them with soaring choruses such as in Smells Like Teen Spirit. Blink-182 are not the first band that would come to mind when one thinks of this idea but on Enema Of The State they found a great balance between the two. The band are a pop-punk band best known for the hit single All The Small Things off of this album but have proven time and time again that they are not just a one trick pony. Enema Of The State is their third studio album and is frequently considered to be one of their best.
Everything about the album screams adolescence and the rebellion that often goes hand in hand with it. From the seductive image of a woman in a nurses outfit with cleavage visible on the cover to song titles like Mutt and Dysentery Gary one knows what to expect from the release. This thirty five minute piece of work from the three members of the band is not exactly going to rewrite the rules of pop punk music but is a fun ride. The guitar work makes the best use it possibly can of three or four chord riffs and sounds powerful and lays down a wall of sound. The drumming is somewhat chaotic with a lot of cymbal crashes to add a lot to the overall furious and fast sound the band were aiming to attain on Enema Of The State. The bass is consistently audible on every song even during the louder moments, thumping along at the forefront of the sound to give a groovy tone to the album.
The vocals are handled by Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge who were also the song writers for this album with Hoppus contributing the majority of them. The vocal style the duo takes for many of the songs is loud and brash with a semi-shout to them, and yet they still carry the youthful whine speaking out to a generation. Tom's vocals are sneering and the whinier of the two with a less restrained style to them, meaning he can spit his profanity ridden lyrics out as frantically as possible. The choruses to Dumpweed and Dysentery Gary are two prime examples with a lot of speedily delivered lines. His songs are often considerably more immature lyrically with a lot of F-words used and break-up obsessed lyrics. He belts out his lines with a lot of passion and anger behind them and it really works well for the sound of the band. Meanwhile Mark has a lower tone to his voice and writes much more serious songs such as the infamous Adam's Song.
This song was about one of their fans who committed suicide. It opens up with a nice atmosphere-building clean guitar and when the vocals come in the song really comes into its own. The lyrics border on tear-jerker material with lines such as "i'm too depressed to go on, you'll be sorry when I'm gone" before the clean guitar comes back in. This song is one that has a lot of impact on the human emotions both due to the lyrical content and the uncharacteristic mature look Blink-182 takes for this song. This is not a song with any light or nice undertones and is the centerpiece of the album. It has a lot of atmospheric feel to it and the lyrics are so bleak and have a feeling of genuine emotion to them. "Please tell mom this is not her fault" Mark declares before the chorus comes back in, and the listener feels themselves really gravitating towards this song. If there is one song off of Enema Of The State that comes highly recommended then it is Adam's Song.
One of the songs that is most often hated on off of this album is All The Small Things. This is a very pop-sounding song with its simplistic and repetitive palm-muted verse riff to it and the annoying accent to the vocals. However this song has a superb chorus to it with a lot of oomph and impact with the energy behind it. The real substandard song off of Enema Of The State that drags it down is Aliens Exist. This song starts off great with a cool piece of drumming and some really hilarious drumming but it pushes on and on and never really goes anywhere fun or interesting. This song just feels as though the band just went through the motions and made another obligatory catchy number, with the refrain of "i'm not like you guys" repeated before a brief riff that sounds clean out of a Nirvana song. Mutt is a song that has some rather undesirable lyrical matter about just having casual sex that feels so immature when it is found among more serious numbers like Adam's Song.
Enema Of The State is an album that makes a good case for itself as the best Blink-182 album. In dropping the rougher edge of Dude Ranch and gearing toward an even more catchy sound, the band put together a thirty five minute home stretch that rarely lets up in the enjoyment it gives. Adam's Song and Dumpweed are my picks for the best here with the former having the aforementioned dark sound to it and Dumpweed carries itself forward with perhaps the finest chorus on the album. Enema Of The State is an album that succeeds at what it aims to do and for that comes highly recommended.