Now regarded as one of the most significant pop-punk albums of all time, Enema of the State was the all-important record which catapulted Blink-182 into mainstream success.
When the album was released in 1999, Blink-182 were not a new band. Founded in 1992 by Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and then drummer Scott Raynor, prior to Enema of the State, the band had already released two full-length albums: Cheshire Cat and Dude Ranch in 1995 and 1997 respectively. By 1996, three major record labels, Interscope, MCA and Epitaph, were fighting over the band, who eventually signed to MCA. Shortly after, Dude Ranch’s lead single ‘Dammit’ became a hit, and the album itself went gold in 1998.
However, amid their intensive touring schedule, tensions among the trio were rising, and midway through 1998, Hoppus and DeLonge fired drummer Scott Raynor. Later that year, Travis Barker, previously of The Aquabats, replaced Raynor as a full-time member of Blink-182, forming the trio that would become vital in the development of pop-punk.
Right from ‘Dumpweed’s opening riff, Enema of the State is unstoppable. Travis Barker’s precise, furiously fast drumming took Blink-182 to an otherwise unattainable level, and made it impossible for anyone else to ever – quite literally – catch up with the power trio. Even before the album reaches single ‘What’s My Age Again?’, there’s the punchy, breakneck choruses of ‘Don’t Leave Me’ and ‘Going Away To College’, with the latter track fading so smoothly into that unmistakeable beginning of the wonderfully immature, cavalier ‘What’s My Age Again?’, with that unmistakeable video to match.
But then there’s ‘Adam’s Song’. With its darker lyrical content, it risked sounding out of place on such an upbeat, resilient album as Enema of the State. Yet the slower, more understated verses demonstrated that Blink-182 weren’t a one-dimensional band that simply wanted to charge carelessly through each track without a hint of musicianship. Whilst ‘Adam’s Song’ was the least successful of the album’s three singles, it is certainly a highlight of the record, with a soaring chorus that makes the band’s third album so much more than just another pop-punk record.
Of course, Enema of the State wouldn’t be the album it is without its best-selling single ‘All The Small Things’, which is nothing less than a stellar pop-punk anthem. And it was the slick, polished pop sound so evident on this instantly recognisable single that differentiated Enema of the State from previous pop-punk records, like Green Day’s Dookie, or The Offspring’s Smash, neither of which were quite so refined. Enema of the State, on the other hand, took the impish, roguish spirit of punk and gave it a shiny pop gloss, renewing the pop-punk genre and launching it into the mainstream, opening doors for younger bands like New Found Glory and Fall Out Boy.
Enema of the State, then, is more than a multi-platinum selling pop-punk album. It was the start of a new era, in which not only pop-punk, but rock music as a whole, had a place on mainstream radio. It ushered in a whole new wave of music, and is still cited by bands today as one of their major influences. Without Enema of the State, who knows which other bands might never have made it?
Enema of the State was released on 1st June 1999 on MCA.