Pros: It epitomizes light-hearted, infectious coolness
Cons: To many people, it just may trigger a "Shut up and grow up" reaction
First things first: deciding that a Blink 182 song/album sucks because it's, oh, not mature and serious enough is like saying that a Britney Spears album won't receive any praise because she can't write a poignant, beautiful song and hit gravity-defying high notes. Many influential musicians (whether you consider them to be talented or not) have a certain "Ahhh, that's [insert band name here]" recognition that is prominently stamped in their sound. Come on -- it obviously was not Blink 182's intention to heal the world with their massively successful album, Enema of the State. Arguably one of the most successful "punk rock" (gosh, I've grown to hate that term) bands of the past several years, Blink 182 are extremely consistent in their uptempo, addictive sound.
This album's purpose, seemingly, is to be a spontaneous, attention-grabbing burst of pure energy and sheer fun, all while not running much longer than the average sitcom. It's close to undeniable that Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge, and Travis Barker have achieved this mission.
Did I like Enema of the State more when I was 12 years old? Of course I did. The reasons are zillion-fold: suffice to say, I've become way more picky about vocal quality since then (yeah, I'm weird like that), and...sometimes you grow out of certain sounds. Don't get me wrong. I like Blink 182 a ton. The recent news of their potential "breakup", or as they word it, "indefinite hiatus" sorta upset me (and by sorta, I mean 'really'. Aren't I pathetic?).
From the very opening guitar chords of one of the album's highlights, "Dumpweed", Enema of the State teleports me back to junior high. I literally feel like I have frizzy hair, a unibrow, braces and bony legs all over again when I listen to this. 'Tis almost freaky, but somehow...comforting? How weird is that? So, this song -- take it or leave it -- sets the tone for the entire album. Delonge's scratchy voice, as you may immediately learn, is not spectacular. It's forgivable though; it doesn't strive to be spectacular, you see. Barker's drumming adds so much to the band's sound as a whole, as will only be proven further as the album goes on.
The catchy, deceptively light-hearted sounding "Going Away to College" is my personal favorite showcase of Hoppus' trademark flat vocals. While the song has a vulnerable, upbeat, optimistic sound, it's pretty depressing lyrically. I'm telling you, it brings out the wimp in me (okay, so it doesn't take much to do that -- what's your point?). It's just so genuine, and I find that to make the song irresistible. "I haven't been this scared in a long time," Hoppus admits, not sounding like his usual self-assured self. I must say that I prefer his voice over DeLonge's, but the truth is that both of them personify and are so essential to the terrific Blink 182 sound that it's definitely not a "one sucks, the other is great" type of thing.
The midtempo, fun "What's My Age Again?" is likely not only this album's best known song, but Blink 182's best known song of all. The theory of a song's accompanying music video making or breaking its success as a single seems to ring incredibly true in this particular case. Because honestly, don't we all envision the three guys running around naked when we hear that playful, memorable intro? Ahh, summer of 1999. "That's about the time she walked away from me...nobody likes you when you're 23," goes the song's most addictive refrain.
Enema of the State's mood takes an abrupt bungee-jump with the confessional, chilling anthem "Adam's Song". The song shouts an anti-suicide message out loud; Hoppus and DeLonge did an excellent lyrical job, convincingly singing from the point of view of a teenager that is fed up with the world. "Sixteen just held such better days," Hoppus laments, "days when I still felt alive." The end of the song finds the teenager happy again, deciding that he has survived many hardships thus far, so why not continue and look on the bright side? This track definitely leaves an impact. Not only is it the album's most 'serious' song, it sinks in more and has more of an effect because it is also the longest, at 4:09.
Oddly enough, the guys get somewhat serious -- well, lyrically -- again in "The Party Song". Crazily uptempo, this is a sure concert favorite with its undeniable energy and fun infection. Hoppus narrates from the point of view of a teen who learns a valuable lesson at a party. After expressing a curiosity as to whether or not a pretty girl with long blonde hair and green eyes was, uh, wearing underwear or not, he concludes, "You'll find out that some girls try too hard," all with an honest-to-goodness earnest vibe of someone disgusted by fake, sickening personality traits of many people.
The required "look at what a rebellious teen I wanna be" song "Anthem" was an excellent, rocking choice for album closer. DeLonge takes care of the vocal work here, and it works so well because he seems to portray the more mischievous-teen sound better than Hoppus. "I'll pack my bags, I swear I'll run," he insists brattily, "wish my friends were 21!"
Enema of the State has been a gem in my CD collection for so many years now, and I can honestly say that I will have no problem with listening to it years from now. It's a refreshing album that, at large, is a light-hearted, seemingly effortless blast of carefree, addictive tunes. Certainly not an award-winner for its astounding beauty, I wouldn't recommend it to people who take things too seriously (then again, what kind of music would be recommended to...ah, nevermind), and stay away if you can't handle tons of "potty humor" and perversion. But something tells me that music listeners who would be turned off by that wouldn't even be considering learning about anything remotely related to the pranksters of Blink 182.
2. Don't Leave Me
3. Aliens Exist
4. Going Away to College
5. What's My Age Again?
6. Dysentery Gary
7. Adam's Song
8. All The Small Things
9. The Party Song
11. Wendy Clear