After the massive financial success that was Blink-182’s third album, Enema of the State – which firmly cemented their status as essential listening for a new age of rebellious youths – they faced the unenviable task of bettering, or at least, living up to the standards set by EOTS. The band emerged in 2001 with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, the band’s poppiest album to date. While the band’s popularity continued to rake in the fans and cash, TOYPAJ also marked the years where cracks started to appear in the friendships between members of the band – the beginning of the end if you will.
Lead track “Anthem, Pt. 2” set the tone for the album, as Travis Barker’s crisp drumming and Tom DeLonge’s simplistic yet memorable riffs were made even more palatable for the mainstream crowd by the crisp and clear production. Tracks like “First Date” and “The Rock Show” further highlighted the shift towards a more radio friendly sound, which were (and still are) catchy, though sorely lacking in substance.
If any of the good old Blink-182 punk-ethos remained, it sought refuge in the band’s cussing and goofball humor. The scoff-inducing ”Happy Holidays, You Bastard” embodies both factors in its 43 second run-time, with lyrics like “It’s Labor Day and my grandpa just ate seven fuckin’ hot dogs” being perversely amusing. “Online Songs” and “Roller Coaster” form up the remaining aloof songs. Though considered enjoyable songs, the passage of time has diminished their significance, though the relentless pace of the tracks still makes for a joyous listening experience.
The album wasn’t all fun and games though, as glimpses of the maturity that the band would fully come to realize shone through in “Stay Together for the Kids.” Arguably the best song on the album, the band utilizes soft-loud transitions to great effect, with a foot stomping, arena-filling chorus sung by DeLonge. Hoppus’ instantly recognizable, deep voice is morose and apathetic, as he leads listeners through the gloomy verses.
If I had to sum up this album, I’d call it the forgotten middle child in the catalogue of Blink-182’s releases. It isn’t the sure-fire classic that Enema of the State became, neither was it what I consider the band’s magnum opus, the full realization of their potential in their self-titled album.
TOYPAJ has its moments, but they don’t hit quite as hard as their siblings. That isn’t to say that it wasn’t enjoyable – it was, and still is an album I constantly revisit when I find myself in need of some additional cheer. For anything else, you best look elsewhere.