Rediscovering: blink-182’s Enema of the State

There’s a certain sense of apprehension as I continue to lop off chunks of the Rediscovering pile. Some albums, I simply never got around to listening to. Others, I put off to the side for a very good reason. Enema of the State is very much in the latter camp. I guess I was expecting the very sugary and immature pop punk you know is coming when you put in a blink-182 album to grate on me, or maybe I was disinterested thanks to the singles, or perhaps I was just embarrassed to even be caught listening to it. Either way, the Rediscovering boat never coasts. Drop your pants.

Blink-182's Enema of the State

My previous experience, if any

Like everyone else, I know blink’s singles (hell, love some of them–“Feeling This” kicks ass and has one of my all-time favorite drum parts), but as far as this album goes on the whole, I was hedging. This was a thrift store find from (who else?) my older sister, and I’m guessing she wasn’t terribly into it because it ended up in my hands instead. With song titles like “Dysentery Gary” (pleasant) and that ever-so-classy cover (you surprised she was a porn star?), I was kind of expecting this one to be a dud, not bad but not for me, a little smart bomb finding its way to my yeeted pile.

The history lesson

blink is just one of those bands you know if you’re familiar with early 2000s rock. They helped bring pop punk into its second wind after Green Day started flagging and The Offspring started writing straight rock tunes. While Enema wasn’t their first brush with fame (“Dammit” was on Dude Ranch), it helped bolster their careers with three of blink’s most instantly recognizable tracks, “What’s My Age Again?”, “All the Small Things”, and “Adam’s Song”, the latter hinting at the maturity that blink had but never dealt too commonly in up to that point. Regardless of how you feel about pop punk voices (and trust me, Tom DeLonge sounds leagues better in what I’ve heard of Angels and Airwaves), these songs were hits then and still are.

Well?

Some of the previous Rediscovering entries get off to a pretty slow start; Enema of the State, meanwhile, has a fucking amazing opener in “Dumpweed”. The moment I heard that line, “She’s a dove/She’s a fucking nightmare”, good God, I was hooked. The band is absolutely relentless for the first three tracks, and if you’ve only ever heard “Small Things” and “Adam’s Song”, you might not be expecting it. They’re speedy, they’re tight, their choruses hit hard melodically and in intensity–this is just about the gold standard for how you do pop punk.

The album’s singles are all clustered around the center of the disc, which is probably the smart way to do it. You get a few tracks of lead in before the “oh shit it’s this one” guitar chimes that start off “What’s My Age Again?”, and–scratch what I said, this album’s fucking funny sometimes. Nothing’s particularly high-brow here, of course (it’s blink, what do you expect?), but it’s genuinely refreshing to hear something ridiculously immature and lighthearted, the kind of humor that can’t exist anymore in this overrated atmosphere of being incredibly woke and questioning everything. Take a look at everyone’s expressions on the back cover and you about know what you’re getting yourself into.

The back cover of "Enema of the State"

What I think is more striking than the humor, though, are the curveballs. In an album of mostly love songs, “Aliens Exist” blindsides you with little green men in a moshpit. You find me another pop punk album that mentions MJ-12 and I’ll find you a dog Mark Hoppus hasn’t molested. No wonder it was on Lego Rock Band, it’s hard as fuck to play and a joy to listen to. Of course, there’s also the aforementioned “Adam’s Song”, which is…uncharacteristically moving for a blink song, especially on this album. Story goes, Mark wrote it upon coming home from a tour and realizing he was the only one of the group without someone to come home to. Naturally, the band mixed it with obscure HBO sketch comedy encouraging suicide, but the humor’s awful muted in the mix this go around. Lonely and futile, “I couldn’t wait ’til I got home/To pass the time in my room alone”, as the kids say, hits different in recent months. Keep close to the people around you, lads.

I was really hoping for the album to end as strongly as it started, but no dice. Of course, the crazy drum beats and fast tempos keep going, but “Wendy Clear” just sounds like “Dammit” to me, and “Anthem” just sounds like “Aliens Exist” to me. Never a good sign when you start retreading your old work, or stuff on the same album. Still, 2/3rds of the album being pure hits ain’t bad at all for something so seemingly shallow. Really pleasantly surprised, I am.

Are you keeping it?

You bet.

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