1/2 Buddha (Kung Fu, 1993)
1/2 Cheshire Cat (Cargo/Grilled Cheese, 1994)
Dude Ranch (MCA/Cargo, 1997)
Enema of the State (MCA, 1999)
1/2 The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (MCA, 2000)
/2 Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (MCA, 2001)
/2 Blink-182 (Geffen, 2003)
/2 Greatest Hits (Geffen, 2005)
If Green Day's bratty emotion defined pop-punk in the mid-Nineties, Blink-182's alternately gushy and goofy radio hits updated it for the new millennium. On their first two albums, Buddha and Cheshire Cat, the San Diego–area trio slapped together lilting melodies and racing beats in an attempt to connect emo and skate punk, a sort of pop hardcore. But it wasn't until Dude Ranch that Blink focused their sound. Guitarist Tom DeLonge plays the straight man, singing sturdily and deadpan, while the squeakier-voiced bassist Mark Hoppus bleats urgently about romance gone wrong. Drummer Scott Raynor (who was replaced by Travis Barker in 1998), sticks to double time, but his songwriter bandmates hang their old weepie-and-wedgie routine on shiny new hooks. And while later pop-punk bands such as the Promise Ring will implausibly deny their emo tendencies, the scrupulously unpretentious Blink actually name one of their bitter anthems after the frequently derided genre. (Don't ask where they got the inspiration for "Dick Lips.")
Were it not for three classic singles, Blink-182's major-label debut, Enema of the State, would've sounded like just another visit to the Dude Ranch. "Adam's Song" took its controversial place in rock history alongside Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution" when a teen killed himself in his bedroom while the track played on repeat. The point of song, however, was that teens trapped in their rooms aren't alone. "All the Small Things" is Blink's most subtle song about sex, though the title does not refer to the band's penises. In its schoolyard-chant verse and na-na-na chorus, Hoppus sweetly tilts at his "little windmill," a love interest who comes to his shows and thinks about spending the night. An adolescent fear of sex animates Enema of the State's best cut, the blithely jubilant "What's My Age Again?" "We started making out/and she took off my pants," Hoppus narrates obliviously, "but then I turned on the TV." How better to close the Nineties than by posing and then answering the question "What the hell is ADD?" in under two and a half minutes?
Essentially a concept album about being a teenager, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket nimbly touches on disenchantment with adult life, socializing online, meeting girls at rock shows, first dates, Christmas Eve with only two presents wrapped, mother jokes, grandparents shitting their pants, ejaculating into socks, parents getting divorced, wanting to leave home, and coming home anyway. If none of the singles stand out quite as much as those from Enema of the State, it's because of Jacket's unprecedented cohesion: Almost every song interweaves gently plaintive moments with bolts of frantic energy. Kids discovering punk rock could do much worse than starting here. The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show is a sub-par live album.
On Blink-182, Mark, Tom, and Travis deepened their sound while letting the emotion ooze out more freely. It wasn't as much fun as Enema, but it sounded pretty good. Full-bodied burners such as "Feeling This" and "Asthenia" found the Blinkers mixing in spacey textures and drawing on emo's stormy tumult while avoiding that genre's yowling, bloodletting excesses.
In early 2005, after tensions arose within the band, Blink-182 began a four-year hiatus, during which the members started new bands—including Delonge's Angels and Airwaves and +44, which featured both Hoppus and Barker. Blink reunited for a summer tour in 2009 and, as of the beginning of 2010, were working on new material.
Portions of this album guide appeared in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).
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