Les Cousins Dangereux – Enema of the State+ (2011)
Artist: Les Cousins Dangereux
Album: Enema of the State+
Label: Suite 309
I’ve alluded to my pop punk origins in the past across my various podcast/blog ventures. It’s not exactly something I would say I wear with a badge of honor per se, but I think it’s a useful touchstone to keep in mind when I discuss anything with a modicum of gravitas or self-importance. A willingness to mine for research on off the beaten path topics and a general disposition towards being exactingly pedantic at times does not make me smart, either in the conventional or perceived sense.
At best, I’m “Jeopardy! Smart”, the most functionally useless kind of smart, and at worst I’m Baby Fucking Huey running into door jams four times a day. This is why reminding myself of my pop punk past is helpful. Whenever I feel as though I’m some sort of sage with my two broke dick college degrees, I simply need to remind myself that I spent hundreds of dollars on bands like The Suicide Machines and SR-71 to grind that spark of joy underneath my heel.
Naturally, if I was sliding cash across the counter for C-tier stuff like Riddlin’ Kids and Lucky Boys Confusion, its safe to assume that I was a massive Blink 182 fan back in the day. Like, a BIG fan. For a longer stretch of time than I am comfortable admitting, their album Enema of the State was probably my favorite album on the planet. I was a shiftless, shitty thirteen-year-old obsessed with MTV and being obnoxious. It’s like it was made just for me. Well, it was almost certainly tailor made that way under the watchful eye of MCA Records, but you get my point.
But all these years later, I feel the psychosomatic pin prick of ten thousand needles listening to the album. I mean, I still love trash. It’s kind of my deal. I even like a lot of the trashy music I listened to when I was a kid (see: You Can’t Stop the Bumrush). However, even I have my limits, and Blink might be the precipice of those limits, if not flying off the fucking cliff of those limits, Thelma and Louise style. But, there’s still that weird ember of nostalgia burning (and burning feels appropriate here) at the base of my brain stem for this album. Which leads me to Les Cousins Dangereux and Enema of the State+.
Les Cousins Dangereux is the alias of Tim Thornton, the dude behind Tiger Village, CDX, and the amazing Cleveland-based (Ohio represent) cassette label Suite 309. The name comes from the saucy French movie from Arrested Development that gets George Michael all hot and bothered due to his whole weird deal with Maeby, and Enema of the State+ was a chiptune bedroom project cover album he released in 2011 and rereleased in 2018.
Now, I say chiptune cover album, but that doesn’t really describe it accurately. This is a noisy, stretched, and smashed take on the whole chiptune deal. The vocals are processed to fuck and back, the instrumentation is cranked into the red, and the whole album has the absurd flourishes of a beautiful madman strewn throughout. It’s not just a matter of it being a bit off. This is a true reimagining of this album. Hell, even the iconic album cover with Janine dressed as a sexy nurse Lindemulder (which, to the shock of no one I’m sure, I was real into as well) is distorted into this hyper pixelated, featureless, green alien woman. Basically, what I’m saying is that you know something is very off from the jump, but you aren’t ready for how off it’s going to be.
I’ve discussed on the Top Cover Songs podcast how much I love the cover of “What’s My Age Again?”, but the rest of this album is just as great. “Dumpweed” has this mousy panic to the vocals that sets the tone immediately. “Aliens Exist” gives me fucking heart palpitations the way it punches into my brain (the weird, static-y, almost passing for normal “I’m not like you” in the chorus isn’t helping matters). “Dysentery Gary” hits like a thousand tiny trucks. Hell, by the time we get to “Anthem”, the whole fucking endeavor is completely unrecognizable. I mean, I think you get it. This is an extreme take on a cover album and so much more intense than the original.
I love this album because it simultaneously gives me an empty nostalgic dopamine hit basically for free with a recognizable album from my youth and also fucks it into the ground. It allows me to have my cake and eat it too. Thornton would continue to do more albums in this vein like Spliceworld and Titanic II, but there’s something about the lack of polish that continues to hook me. This feels like the world’s weirdest passion project, and I can’t put it over enough.
For more album discussions, check out our review of the album This is Working Out by Problems.