Blink-182 - Chesire Cat (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Chesire Cat (1995)


Blink-182 was the shot of tequila that took the edge off punk in the '90s. Chesire Cat was them not taking themselves or the industry seriously at all. Or so they wanted us to think. When all's said and done, you can chop it and dice it anyway you see fit, but no matter how rough and unpolished their debut full-length was, it definitely was the prototype for their greatest hits they'd scatter over the next three of four records. It's them being calculating and methodical.

Or just drunk and not-giving-a-shit.

Given this was the starting point for all things Blink (aka things juvenile and brash), it's definitely no surprise to see them now in their current state of affairs. Not that there were any red flags raised back then but revisiting this album, you could tell these dudes had issues. Issues that'd make for amazing songs. All the tension and infighting that ensued pissed me off but this album will always stand out as a great indicator of where the band would end up, musically and honestly, personally. Seriously, you had to know this was a whack bunch of characters when you first heard this. Guys who didn't sweat all the small things and encouraged you to rebel. With your pants off.

People will probably remain in denial as to why this surpasses Dude Ranch and Enema of the State as the greatest in a trilogy which to me, made the band. Why I picked this? Well, it came at a time when they toured incessantly, touched base with crowds that found a home in their obnoxious charm and quite simply, they reminded everyone what it meant to be a teen. And that said, you can't be surprised how much they connected to those crowding the pit at these shows. It's a coming-of-age album for a band that littered this message of youth and yearning over quite some time. Look at "Wasting Time" for example. It had that basement, demo-feel to it that kickstarted the journey and overall Blink experience. You couldn't help but chuckle at the songwriting and I think this really helped spread their vibe like wildfire. Whatever medium their music was being seeded out on, you couldn't fight that this album foretold something special. Definitely, sucks to see them at an impasse now but again, it makes the ride that much better remembering Scott Raynor's high-standard (which Travis Barker really lived up to) and how big labels started chomping at the bit for their signatures. After all, there's no thing like selling out, right? It's all about buying in.

Blink-182's infectious style of singalong choruses wasn't as anthemic here and definitely not as commercial but the big thing spotted was potential. The creative freedom, guitar rushes, badass hooks, choking riffs and overall, killer punk sprawls shot Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus to the top of the food chain as the 'in' band. And this magic, to their credit, they kept for the next few years as MTV sucked them off while we bantered about if they were skate-punk, emo-punk, pop-punk or whatever derivative we wanted, and needed them to be. It's hard to finger, pun intended, but when "M+Ms" rolled around, who cares? It was just plain old fun. Most tracks would probably feel like filler now but back then they meant so much. "Carousel" was an opener, and the subsequent jams, offered up something that was hard to recapture, not just from Blink, but from most punk bands these days. "Depends" was another jab of humor that reiterated how flawed the production was but still, one that had so much quality content. These songs were chipped, jagged, in need of sanding and you know's us between 14 and 18. Unsure of ourselves. Not knowing our purpose. Filled with questions. Being reckless. Throwing caution to the wind.

Again, you can see where their radio hits come from because there are so many hints offered on this debut. Splits, bickering and personalities aside, this is where it started for a lot of us. Masked Intruder is probably the band that I'd call a modern contender to these dudes but let's be real - early Blink-182 is untouchable. I'll say it again...Chesire Cat is the prequel to punk greatness and one of the most significant rock albums in its decade. Once they read this review, get your shit together guys because they'll reunite and get back into that mode of inspiring the inner-punks in all of us. They'll reawaken that which is dormant and resurrect that which we killed as we aged. In the deep, dark recesses of our mind, they'll call out to us once more. Let's hope their second coming flies off the handle with a record as solid as this debut.