Blink-182 is supposed to be a band that you grow out of once you’ve reached a certain age (probably, if you’re really “mature,” no later than 17). Their crude bathroom humor, their lack of lyrical profundity, and their general aura of being anti-responsibility would, presumably, make them unfit for anyone who exists outside the year 2001 to admit to actually liking them. But these people are in denial as Blink-182 represents everything that an individual should strive for—that is to say, free-spiritedness, a love of Mexican food from San Diego, liberal drug use (weed), and the concession that falling in love is extremely awkward.
Naturally, as is the case with all prolific artists, a conspicuous dividing point exists in the career of the trio. It wasn’t simply that their band name was just Blink from 1992 to 1994 or that they weren’t signed to a major label until the late nineties, it was that the entire dynamic changed in the wake of drummer Scott Raynor’s departure after 1997’s commercial success, Dude Ranch. Once this occurred, the tone and direction of Blink-182 became an even more intensified version of the jocularity and light-heartedness for which they had become associated with. Ironically, Raynor was kicked out of the band for being a little too jocular (a.k.a. he liked himself anything that came in the shape of a bottle).
It was when then-Aquabats drummer Travis Barker joined Blink-182 while they were on tour in 1997 that the subtle, though palpable, shift in Blink-182’s style transpired. The decided alteration of the band’s humor came to complete fruition with the seminal 1999 album, Enema of the State. This is the album that would, in retrospect, prove itself to be the band’s opus. Featuring everyone’s favorite question/song “What’s My Age Again?,” the two and a half minute glimpse into pop-punk perfection remains the ultimate exploration of how fucking unsettling it is to enter the realm of being in one’s mid-twenties. This is not to say that the album did not have its share of frothy compositions. Opening with the undeniably sexist “Dumpweed,” Tom DeLonge laments, “I need a girl that I can train.” Derogatory or not, let’s be honest, this is what most dudes are thinking when their girlfriend disappoints them in some way.
While, undoubtedly, Blink-182 is at its best when being as unserious as possible, “Adam’s Song,” the sole slow jam on Enema of the State, revealed a level of depth that had previously been inoperative. With lyrics like, “I never thought I’d die alone/Another six months I’ll be unknown/I never conquered, rarely came/Sixteen just held such better days,” the band addressed the dual subjects of depression and suicide with an air of sensitivity that one would never have expected from them.
The remainder of Enema of the State contains a more accurate account of Blink-182’s overall summation of life: Hot girl turns out to be an asshole (“The Party Song”), attractive but vacant guys always seem to get the hot girl (“Mutt”), working is stupid and dating perhaps even stupider (“Wendy Clear”), and the obstacles involved in trying to enjoy oneself while being in the shackles of parental slavery (“Anthem”).
Anyone who was in junior high or high school at the height of Blink-182’s popularity has invariably forgotten how relatable the lyrics on all of their albums were (Cheshire Cat and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket included—but not so much the self-titled album that came out in 2003). However, if you really take the time to revisit Blink-182’s canon of work, all of the essential tools for coping with and enjoying life are laid out before you in the span of no more than approximately forty-five minutes.