Enema of the State by Blink-182 is one of the most influential albums ever released. It captured the heart of a generation, catapulted a band into superstardom, and cemented the genre of pop-punk-rock. Blink-182 accomplished these feats by the carful crafting that went into the creation of Enema of the State. Each song has a very similar tone — they all have the same broad emotional “color” but the particular shade varies as the album progresses.
The album begins with the song Dumpweed. It deals with the dynamic nature of people’s temperaments. People — especially in budding relationships between youths like the one in Dumpweed — can go from loving and kind in an instant to strong-willed and passive-aggressive the next. Dumpweed is a very fast beat song and is sung in a loud nasally voice. These characteristics allow Dumpweed to convey a sense of teen angst. Accompanying this angst in a feeling of contradiction.
The lyrics about the girl read, “she’s a dove, she’s a [——]ing nightmare.” The speaker in the song doesn’t know how he feels about the girl in question, and this creates a sense of unease in the listener not unlike the sense of unease created by Cognitive Dissonance. Dumpweed is an absolutely great song and certainly one of the best on the album.
The second song on Enema of the State is Don’t Leave Me. It is slower, less nasally, and less angry than Dumpweed. However, it still brings with it a sense of angst. It is the other side of the Dumpweed. Dumpweed is about a guy who is thinking about leaving a girl and her bipolar tendencies but still feels trapped. Don’t Leave Me, on the other hand, is about the moment right after a girl leaves a guy. It’s a good song, but not quite of the same caliber as Dumpweed.
Aliens Exist is the third song on the album. It is unique in that it carries with it almost no sense of teen angst and doesn’t address the issue of young relationships. Aliens Exist was written by Tom Delonge to express his belief that aliens have already visited the Earth. It is a funny and thoroughly engaging song. It is much slower than the previous two songs. Aliens Exist serves as a transition between the “angsty” first two songs and what might very well be Blink-182’s greatest song.
Going Away to College follows Aliens Exist. It is a truly fantastic song. It deals with how teenagers feel when the high school relationships they have had for years might very well come to an early end because of college. The metaphors the speaker employs — “and if young love is just a game then i must have missed the kick-off” and “bouquet of clumsy words” — reinforce the speaker’s claim of being “unprepared.” Going Away to College is one of the saddest and most beautiful songs written by Blink-182. Even though it deals with such a heavy subject, it manages to keep the mood the listener experience (for the most part) upbeat.
Next comes one of the funniest songs on the album, What’s my Age Again?. Again, the tone of the album returns to teen angst and the subject is once again young love. Coupled with this though, are the new subjects of immaturity and growing up. The speed of the song varies, with some fast and some slow parts. This variation serves as a link between the rather slow Going away to College and the fast-paced Dysentery Gary. What’s my Age Again? is a sidesplittingly funny song that serves as an expose of some of the most ridiculous instances of teenage immaturity.
Dysentery Gary comes next. It combines the humor of What’s my Age Again? with the teen angst of Dumpweed. Dysentery Gary deals with the subject of a guy’s emotional response to liking a girl only to see her end up with another guy and his jealousy affects his feelings toward that guy. While a great song on its own, Dysentery Gary is placed where it is in the album largely for its effect on the other songs. It serves as an extension of the themes introduced in What’s my Age Again? and serves a foil to the next song All the Small Things.
All the Small Things is the most listened to Blink-182 song ever, and for good reason. It is a truly inspired peace of music. It is moderately fast song, but lacks the teen angst seen in much of the album. It uses only simple and almost excessively monosyllabic words. This gives All the Small Things and almost childlike sense of purity and clarity. Tom Delonge wrote it about his girlfriend at the time (she is now his wife). He uses actual examples from his relationship to give the song depth. She actually “left roses by the stairs” and her “surprises let [him] know she cares.” She was always at “[his] show, watching, waiting, commiserating.” All the Small Things is arguably the best Blink-182 song and best song on the record because of the depth Delonge reaches by writing from his own experiences.
While a decent song, the next song —-The Party Song — doesn’t resonate in the same way all the other songs emotionally resonate with the listener. Yes, it is fast paced and “angsty,” but it deals with the entirely different (and superficial) subject matter of college parties. This song doesn’t really add to the overall flow of the album.
The final song, Anthem, again has a sense of teen angst but also deals with a new subject. It is about a massive party the members of Blink threw when they were in High School. While detailing that night, the song also critiques on the influence parents have on their teenage children. Anthem compares the absolute control parents have over their children’s lives to “instant slavery.” It is one of the better songs on the album because of the new subject it introduces while still evoking a sense of teen angst.
Ultimately, Enema of the State is a great album and probably Blink-182’s best album. It gave Blink a wide fan base (before with the release of Dude Ranch, Blink has only been popular in surfer and punk culture). In large part it did so well because of how well Enema was targeted to its audience. It aimed to attract teenagers and college kids. Enema’s subject matter as well as the teen angst it embraced and the immaturity it brought to life greatly attracted this demographic. All the songs on Enema of the State are good if not great, and for this any the many other reasons, it is one of the most influential and entertaining albums ever released.
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