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Twenty Years Later: Blink-182 – Enema Of The State

Oh yeah, you better believe that I’m responsible for now the second Blink-182 article here at Indy Metal Vault!

Previously, I covered the self-titled record, which was heavily crafted around sad passages, emotion, and a hard steer towards the pop side of “pop-punk.” But here, things were still the way that classic Blink fans tend to prefer them. Enema Of The State is one of the pinnacle pop-punk records, which I see as essential listening for anybody that’s into anything relatively close to the genre. While I couldn’t say the same about Blink-182 thanks to all of the jokes that spawned from it, this one is completely legit. Loads of fun, relatable lyrics, speed, and party vibes are all over the place despite it being a very consistent effort with strong writing. Most importantly, this album is now twenty years old; bet that caused a few grey hairs! If you thought nobody liked you when you were twenty-three, how do people like you now?

Jerry Finn, producer

Before this record hit, the band took the punkier approach more seriously and had a lot more grit to their music. Anytime a group draws that card, it’s bound to cause an uproar with fans. With that in mind, Enema Of The State is widely considered the “sellout” album, if you will. Fear not, you can still clearly trace the attitude, such as in the blistering speed and pummeling kicks in “Dumpweed.” With the help of producer Jerry Fin, who produced Green Day’s big breakthrough Dookie, the band was ready to take that first hit “Dammit” and run with it. This was also the first record where Travis Barker would take drumming duties in place of Scott Raynor. The last piece of the puzzle was to hire the dashing porn-star Janine Lindenmulder for the cover, just to give it that Blink-182 charm.

Because of Tavis’s absence previously, Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge took basically all writing duties. The lyrical themes present is one of the most important parts of this disc, mostly because a lot of it was written from experiences from the duo themselves in the past or people they knew. When music is about actual people, it tends to be more relatable. Themes of love, break-ups, sexual frustration, and parties could sum up almost every tune. “Going Away To College” is one of the greatest tracks the band has ever crafted, as it’s built on clean and steady rhythms that break into harder territory on and off. The story of high school sweethearts maintaining a relationship through college is told perfectly, and the emotions conveyed through the music fits perfectly. This tune is stuffed between “Aliens Exist” and the smash hit “What’s My Age Again,” and the three yield perfect segues into each other. “Aliens Exist” is a bass-heavy number that deals in a child’s experience with aliens before going into the teen love story in “Going Away To College.” “What’s My Age Again” is like the closer of this growing sequence that reflects someone in their twenties fucking up a relationship thanks to immature behavior.

Not everything follows this transitional narrative style. “The Party Song” acts as a stand-alone that hearkens in on punk passages with Hoppus spitting lines over blitzing riffs. More explorations of sex and relationships are found in this tune as well as the hardships that come along with it. The chorus is where the real magic lies thanks to the smooth singing that gives way to vocal rhythms and a guitar bridge. “Dumpweed” is like the opposite problem. It uses angst and attitude played at a similar tempo to back lyrics about frustration when getting rejected. It’s followed by another bass-heavy number “Don’t Leave Me,” utilizing start/stop strumming patterns intertwined with speed.

You can’t discuss Enema Of The State without mentioning the other huge hits, those being “Adam’s Song” and “All The Small Things.” Although the two mold into each other, they couldn’t be any further apart in construction. The former is a sad number that stands alone, played in minor keys topped by lyrics that deal in suicide and depression. This is one of the most heartbreaking songs they’ve ever written, and it served as their first step into sadboi territory. The latter changes gears and casts a much more upbeat aura. Due to its steadier tempo and the overall feel, this is hook-heavy and tends to be one of the numbers that catch new fans.

Much like their other album I touched on, this is something that many metal goers may scoff at, but even more metal goers won’t admit that they love it. Maybe it didn’t do anything for heavy metal influence-wise, but there’s no denying that it couldn’t appeal to its fans. Those who never gave this a fair shot the whole way through, get ready for a ride that’s perfect for summer, the beach, or anything hot and fun. Don’t forget the liquor and to invite some girls with green eyes and long blonde hair (that won’t be wearing underwear). If nothing else, listen for the Slayer reference in “Dysentery Gary.”

Enema Of The State came out on June 1st, 1999 through MCA Records, and can be found in CD, cassette, and various colors of vinyl. Take your pick right over here!

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