Brisk Bubblecore And Bratty Harmonies

Blink-182's punk is as deep as a tattoo and as dangerous as a Mountain Dew ad.

With Enema of the State, Blink-182's third album, the SoCal

trio have created the musical equivalent of a Miller Lite twelve-pack.

Tastes great? Sure. Less filling? Absolutely.

Each song, just like the last one, is a three-minute blast of frothy

punk-pop, as listenable as it is disposable.

Whether it's bass player Mark Hoppus singing about teen suicide or

guitar player Tom DeLonge singing about stupid girls and diarrhea,

Blink-182's brisk bubblecore and bratty harmonies make every effort

sound like the leading candidate for the totally-out-of-control-party

scene in the next Jennifer Love Hewitt movie.

In other words, it's punk for people who think the Offspring are way

too political and noisy, punk that's as deep as a tattoo and as

dangerous as a Mountain Dew ad.

But if Blink-182's unerring pop instincts and poop-joke-as-rebellion

sensibilities doom them to commercial success and cultural

inconsequence, does that mean one can't enjoy Enema of the State

on its own simple, meretricious terms? If the guys in Blink-182 were

less telegenic and business-minded (their next project is,

an Internet clothing store), or from somewhere semi-exotic like New

Zealand, they would probably get a lot more credit for their craft.

Indeed, their work is filled with economic melody and pithy one-liners,

and when they bother to tie those one-liners into discernible

narratives or themes, as on "Going Away to College," or "What's My Age Again?" (RealAudio excerpt),

they're actually kind of witty. Nothing on Enema of the State

quite achieves the sly dumbness of Joey Ramone in his prime, but

couplets like "I'd ditch my lecture to watch the girls play soccer/ Is

my picture still hanging in her locker?" certainly suggest the

potential for doing so.

On many of Enema's 12 songs, in fact, there are great throwaway

lines. Unfortunately, Hoppus and DeLonge seem a little too content to

simply throw them away, to bury them among other phrases that aren't

quite as good or songs that don't add up to much.

For the most part, genericism, both musical and thematic, serves

Blink-182 well — they even named two of the tracks "Anthem" and

"The Party Song," as if they understand that all a song really needs

is a bassline, some familiar guitar chords and the vaguest suggestion

about what sort of emotional response it's supposed to provoke. Which

is true, of course, but it would be interesting to see what Hoppus and

DeLonge might produce if they let themselves off the hook less easily.