Enema of the State is the third full-length album from pop-punk pioneers blink-182. Serving as their second major-label effort after 1997’s Dude Ranch, Enema blazed the trail for other pop-punk bands to find their sound, ultimately creating the turn-of-the-century resurgence of the genre’s popularity. The conventions and styles found within Enema truly show how landmark it was in being that spark to the pop-punk explosion.
One of the things I enjoy most about Enema of the State is its presence of a cohesive team effort. Between Tom DeLonge’s melodic, yet raging guitar plucks, Mark Hoppus’ inventive bass grooves, and Travis Barker’s wildfire drum fills, Enema allows each member of the power trio to play off each other to create something really magical.
From the explosive riff in the opening track, “Dumpweed”, the album immediately sets out on making its bold statement…even if the lyrics get a little crude along the way.
Blink-182 has always been known for their toilet humor both in the studio and on stage, and Enema is no exception (the album’s title itself is a play on the phrase “enemy of the state”). One of the middle tracks, “Dysentery Gary”, refers to its male subject as “a fucking weasel” and “a player, a diarrhea giver”. The album’s closer, “Anthem”, offers some heartfelt insight for the immature, impatient youth: “Good things come to those who wait, ‘cause she laid me.”
A mellow step down from the vulgarity comes the classic, yet fresh angst that comes with being an adolescent. One of the album’s biggest hits, “What’s My Age Again?”, speaks of the narrator’s inability to mature past his childish antics, warning that “Nobody like you when you’re twenty-three”.
But going even deeper than this is the extreme maturity and reflection found in “Adam’s Song”. Labeled as the band’s “anti-suicide” song, “Adam’s Song”, though perhaps the darkest track on the album, is also the brightest. Some lyrics within the album’s seventh track may seem out of place (“Remember the time that I spilled the cup/Of apple juice in the hall?”), but within the larger piece these offhanded memories detailed within the song form what’s easily one of blink-182’s most personal, hard-hitting tracks in which Hoppus laments, “Please tell mom this is not her fault.”
Enema of the State brings a boatload of experience and craft to the table as far as sound, content matter, and sheer re-playability. Which is to say, Enema’s twelve tracks are a drug, a cocaine of sorts; once you hear your first taste of this album, it’ll be near impossible to turn away from its appeal.
To this day, Enema of the State is seen as a hallmark album that not only capitalized on the rise of pop-punk’s popularity – it practically created that surge.
Coming off of the success of Dude Ranch (of which the hit single "Dammit" remains perhaps the band’s greatest hit), Enema doubled down on that album’s pop vibes and groovy guitar tracks to ultimately crash into the mainstream at the turn of the century.
From the album’s iconic cover featuring a nurse (portrayed by Janine Lindemulder) and the famous blue glove, to the monster singles that remain some of their most famous works, Enema is referred to by many as the record that allowed other pop-punk bands to find fame. In the few years following Enema’s release, bands like Simple Plan, Sum 41, and New Found Glory became mainstays in the scene thanks to blink-182.
“They’re the godfathers of pop-punk,” said William Beckett, former frontman of The Academy Is… in an interview with Rolling Stone. “When I heard they were reuniting [in 2009], I was losing my mind...”
Ryan Key, guitarist/vocalist for the soon-to-retire Yellowcard, spoke similarly of the band’s personal impact on his career. “I think the songwriting and production on Enema was a game-changer for me. It definitely made me want to be a better songwriter and make bigger-sounding records.” Yellowcard, in 2003, would release Ocean Avenue, a highly successful pop-punk album that launched the band into stardom.
Blink-182 themselves, of course, were floored by Enema’s success.
“This record changed our lives,” said Hoppus on the album’s 14th anniversary in 2013. “It still makes me happy to be onstage and hear Tom start the opening riff of ‘What’s My Age Again?’.”
From a sales standpoint, Enema would go on to sell nearly five million copies in the United States, with worldwide sales of over fifteen million records. To this day, it is the band’s most commercially successful album.
Blink-182’s most recent album, California, released on July 1st, 2016 – the 182nd day of the year. The album debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200, and as of January 2017 has sold 408,000 units in the United States since release. California has also been nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rock Album, serving as the first Grammy nomination in the band’s career.
California was also the first blink-182 album without DeLonge on guitar/vocals; he departed the band in early 2015. Matt Skiba, vocalist and guitarist of Alkaline Trio, replaced him shortly thereafter and became a full-time member of the band during the California recording sessions.
The band has made plans for a deluxe edition of the album, which Hoppus has called “A whole other album.”
“It’s more of an extension of what we did in the studio earlier,” said Hoppus.
Next week’s review: Fall Out Boy’s “From Under The Cork Tree”