As ubiquitous as they may appear these days with their har-har music videos, appearances in feature-length films, and posters plastered to teenage girls’ bedrooms, Blink-182 are of humble beginnings. Starting their musical career under the sole moniker “Blink” in the sonically fertile southern California soil, the first record, Cheshire Cat (produced by O. of Fluf, Olivelawn, and numerous skate videos fame and recorded when the boys in the band must have been 18 or 19) was a saccharine-sweet collection of NOFX-inspired tunes about the vices and vulnerabilities of youth (both Clark W. Griswold and “the sport of skateboarding” are thanked in the liner notes), easily digested and leaving the listener quite satiated. The albums that followed saw Blink jump up to a major label in the wake of the post-Rancid signing spree, sign those sneaker endorsement agreements, add the “182” to their name due to impeding lawsuits from another band of the same name, and up their production value a few notches to the point where they were recording two and a half minute gems brimming with melodies, harmonies, adolescent fantasies and failures, and the prerequisite dose of poopy humor.
By this point in their career, Blink-182 have perfected the pop-punk formula down to a science. On their new live album, The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back), every hit is played, and every note is hit with robotic precision. For a one guitar punk band, the recording sounds bright and full, and while the suits at MCA surely had something to do with that production-wise, one can’t fault Tom Delonge for coming into his own as a guitar player, and probably getting more mileage out of the C,G,A,F and G,C,D chord progressions than any band thus far. While the moronic stage banter between EVERY song grates on the nerves, the band’s catalog more than makes up for the digressions; perfectly golden nuggets of adolescence played to perfection in the live setting.