Record #473: Blink-182 – Enema of the State (1999)

enema of the state.jpg“What is my age again?”

That’s the question I found myself asking when, at the age of 31, I purchased my first copy of this record (I had Napster’d it originally. Oh, sweet Napster).

Back when it was a more acceptable time for me to love this record, it was one of my guiltiest pleasures. Publicly, I was the first to decry Blink as sell-outs, pointing to the fact that they had three singles in heavy rotation on the Top 40 station. “The only good Blink-182 album is Cheshire Cat,” I said. “The Ataris are way better.” (This was before the Ataris would have their own major label debut)

But in secret, it was a different story. Because now, more than fifteen years later, I still have most of this album memorized. I even remember how to play most of these riffs.

And as easy as it would be for me to decry this album as immature, simple pop punk riddled with misogyny and toilet humor, that would ignore a huge amount of the album. Sure, there’s plenty of juvenile lyrics set to four-chord wonders. But there’s a sophistication here that exceeds most pop punk. “Don’t Leave Me,” “Going Away to College,” and “Adam’s Song” especially

Tom DeLonge’s guitar work often sprawls beyond the power chords that most pop punk relies on. Mark Hoppus’ basslines bounce along the scale with a sense of melody that is subtle enough to ignore.

But the real star of Enema of the State is Blink’s new drummer Travis Barker. At this point, it’s super cliché to call Travis Barker the best pop punk drummer. But here, on his debut into the public, he earns that reputation. He is a master of groove, commanding the feel of the band at every turn.

All of that would be worthless without good songs, though. And while the three major singles are still indelible entries to the pop canon, most of the tracks stand toe-to-toe. “Mutt” and “Dumpweed” easily could have been swapped for any of the singles and had similar success. Among the deep cuts, only “The Party Song” falls short of the incredibly high bar the singles, and then, it’s only a minor disappointment.

So while it might have taken me over a decade and a half to admit this, yes. Enema of the State is a capital-G Great Record. There. I said it.

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