Descendents - Enjoy! (Cover Artwork)


Enjoy! (1986)


The Descendents were on a roll in the early 80's. Fat, Milo Goes to College and I Don't Want to Grow Up were an unprecedented triple threat of nearly flawless punk-pop albums. Unfortunately, they finally dropped the ball with 1986's Enjoy! While it's not a total failure (a bad Descendents album is still better than most bands' best efforts), it fails to even come close to the tour de force of Milo Goes to College or the emotional resonance of I Don't Want to Grow Up.

Fortunately, what's good here is very good. The highlights of Enjoy! are some of the highlights of the band's career, especially their cover of the Beach Boys' "Wendy," which is an awesome example of the Descendents' ability to infuse 80's punk with pop sensibilities and create pure gold. Also worthy of mentioning are the classic self-deprecation of "Sour Grapes" and "Cheer," the metal-punk anthem "Hurtin' Crue" and the 45-second energy blast of "Kids," which recalls the most energetic tracks on the classic Fat EP.

Unfortunately, the rest of the album gets bogged down in misfire experimentation and filler. The title track for example sounds like the band was too enthralled with their own fart noises do write an actual song, and the result is a tuneless and jarring mess. On "Orgofart" they don't even bother with the musical aspect of the recording process, and just fart into the microphone for almost three minutes. Judging from their laughter, it must have been hilarious in the studio, but in this context, it's just boring.

The lowest point, not just on the album but in the Descendents' career, is the inexplicable "Days Are Blood," an 8-minute metal breakdown that goes beyond bad experimentation and into the realm of embarassment. But it represents a phenomenon that was taking place in punk at the time. Bands were growing up and out of the hardcore scene, and were apt to experiment with their sound. Bands like Black Flag, Social Distortion, 7 Seconds and Bad Brains were now playing metal, rockabilly, new wave and funk-metal, respectively. While in some cases it paid off (most notably in the case of Social D), most of the bands' new directions never lived up to the work from their hardcore days. The Descendents rank somewhere in the middle, because while Enjoy! is their worst effort, it still has its share of good material, and the band would redeem themselves with ALL the next year anyway.