Dusting ‘Em Off: Blink-182 – Enema of the State


The 2010’s have begun their descent into rehashed late-90’s madness: Limp Bizkit released a better throwback record than KoRn did the year prior, Eminem is still riding the wave of his über-successful Recovery, and Britney Spears doubled up between Circus and Femme Fatale. For you new kids in school, the fierce competition between these acts for the top spot–not to mention Mr. Mathers’ eventual day-long TRL dictatorship known as EmTV–over a decade ago will only make sense on Wikipedia.

For the rest of us, the cusp of new millennium summers got buttoned on June 1st, 1999, by a record that still makes me feel half my own age: Blink-182’s porn star-garnished Enema of the State.

After switching from drummer Scott Raynor to the now-infamous percussion devastator Travis Barker, Blink-182 set out to follow up 1997’s Dude Ranch with something cleaner in production, yet still marked by a staple pop-punk cacophony. The end result landed this trio of immature rockers three major singles (“What’s My Age Again?”, “All the Small Things”, and “Adam’s Song”) and a mainstream fan base that would soon thrust summer pop music into blessings (the peak of ska and swing revivals) and curses (think Len, Sugar Ray, etc.) for what felt like forever and a day.

The question surrounding Blink’s pending album, and first in eight years, is identical to that which Enema of the State posits now: Is Blink-182 still relevant? Dusting ‘Em Off articles tend to serve an educational purpose, and unlike revisiting a vinyl I wasn’t originally around to witness, this piece is a retrospective for me as well as a prompt exposition for you. What is there to be gleaned from this era in music, and furthermore, why bother dusting this CD off at all? Sheer nostalgia cannot be the only purpose, can it?

Maybe this is a plug for readership? Nah, surely we jest. What’s our age again?

Blink-182 has, to my knowledge, rarely ever been meant to be taken seriously (though “Adam’s Song” could be considered a slight deviation from the norm). Enema of the State makes me want to prank call the bar 15 minutes from my house, and it makes me want to crank a stereo and make out with a fat and easy emo chick (in all fairness, she’d probably prefer a HIM track or two); on the flip side, it also reminds me that my senior-year song was “Graduation” by Vitamin C, and that makes me want to punch something (“Break Stuff”, anyone?).

“Aliens Exist” is a kids’ song for teenagers, “Going Away to College” would be right at home on any soundtrack to a coming-of-age teen comedy (like, say, how “Mutt” was used brilliantly in 1999’s American Pie, which the band actually cameo’ed in), “Dumpweed” is a great tune to play for those times you wish you could get your girlfriend to roll over, and don’t even get me started on the implicit self-deprecating innuendo of “All the Small Things”. Face it, you cannot listen to this CD without smirking to yourself a little bit–that shit-eating grin that people don right before shaking up a beer can and launching foam all over their least-favorite, football-playing douche bag.

The benchmark for any great or classic record is timelessness. While I wouldn’t exactly place “The Party Song” or “Don’t Leave Me” alongside [insert obligatory Beatles title here], coming back to Enema of the State is like visiting your loser ex who took you to awesome concerts only to discover his/her acne has ceased to be and that they’re suddenly approachable again – you know, for old time’s sake.

It’s a lot like that, actually. Hmm…I should go and track down my little black book. Oh, behave!