Review Summary: When I listen to it now, I’m 13 all over again – carefree, upbeat and laughing really, really hard at mom jokes.Enema of the State
is a classic album. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the colossal impact blink-182’s turn-of-the-millennium release had on pop-punk and mainstream music in general. Today, Enema of the State
celebrates its 20th anniversary and with more than 15 million units sold, has arguably cemented its place as the greatest pop punk album of all time.
While it’s certainly no Dark Side of the Moon
or OK Computer
, for a bunch of Generation Y teens Enema of the State
stands as a landmark ‘growing up’ album. Who could forget hearing those initial blistering seconds of “Dumpweed” for the first time? Nothing else was able to so accurately convey those uniquely teenage problems; Blink tapped into a level of maturity (or rather, immaturity) that could be understood and appreciated by youngsters ranging from preadolescents like myself to young adults nearing their 20s. In other words, Enema of the State
might not be timeless but it does perfectly encapsulate the sound of a generation.
Really, what blink-182 offer on this album is a variation of the same song structures, poppy choruses and boyish, immature lyrics that defined their previous two full-length releases. If I had to try and be objective, imagine as if I was hearing this album for the first time now, I’m sure I would note that almost all the songs sound basically the same. There’s no shortage of energy, though, and new drummer Travis Barker’s performance certainly elevated the band’s sound to new heights. The aforementioned “Dumpweed” wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact if it weren’t for Travis’ outstanding performance behind the kit. As someone who’s never done so much as play the triangle, I can’t say whether it’s technically impressive or not (although the speed and precision with which he plays definitely gives that impression) but there is no doubt that it works perfectly with the style of music Blink were playing at the time.
Of course, everyone knows “What’s My Age Again” and “All the Small Things”, which make them potentially more annoying for seasoned listeners after MTV and radio played them to death. The best song on the album, and the least successful of the three singles, is “Adam’s Song”, a track that foreshadows the emo pop movement that would become so successful later in the decade. In stark contrast to every other song on the album, “Adam’s Song” is dark and serious, with lyrical themes of depression inspired by a teenager’s suicide note. Controversially, it would later be played on repeat by a survivor of the Columbine High School massacre as he hanged himself in his garage – sadly undermining Mark Hoppus’ intention for it as an anti-suicide song.
Other standouts include the gratuitously juvenile “Dysentery Gary”, breakup song “Don’t Leave Me”, the romantic longing of “Going Away to College” and the closer-that-was-so-good-that-it-spawned-a-sequel, “Anthem”. In fact, key to Enema of the State's
legendary status is the sheer consistency of the songs; while there are some that are better than others, not a single track feels out of place and it’s impossible to imagine the album any differently. Even the least impressive cuts – namely “The Party Song” and “Mutt” – are pop punk classics. I mean, who hasn’t tried to keep up with Mark Hoppus during those semi-rapped verses on the former? And while “Mutt” feels most like a song that should have appeared on the band’s previous release, Dude Ranch, it is perfectly placed here in a way that would never have worked on another album.
I know I’m biased in my assessment of Enema of the State
. Hell, who isn’t? On the surface it’s nothing more than a shi
tty pop record appealing to a bunch of kids who think swearing and fart jokes are rebellious. To my younger self, though, it was mankind’s crowning musical achievement and there have been very few albums before or since that have had the same lasting impact on my life. When I listen to it now, I’m 13 all over again – carefree, upbeat and laughing really, really hard at mom jokes.