“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child,” reads Corinthians 1:13, “but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” That’s true for plenty of things, but not, by and large, for Blink-182 fans. Fans and critics both, I’ve noticed, love to grapple with their enduring fandom for the obnoxious mall-punk trio, even when they find the band’s new work lacking, to borrow a phrase, “in the bulge.” I’m no different. 1997’s Dude Ranch and 1999’s Enema Of The State remain foundational aspects of my own taste, ever prone as it is to fizzy, immature rock anthems. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace it, to accept that these songs are forever intertwined with my childhood, and that no amount of dick, piss, and jizz jokes can slay an infectious melody.
Then came Colleen Green’s new album-length cover of Dude Ranch, which the acclaimed rocker—whose 2015 album, I Want To Grow Up, The A.V. Club named one of that year’s best LPs—calls her “favorite album of all time,” and I’m overanalyzing it all over again. Credit her fascinating approach, which reinterprets the album’s 15 songs using only her laconic vocals and a fuzzy bass guitar. The songs are slowed down to a sludgy crawl, but the original melodies remain intact, as do (most of) the lyrics. It’s a fiercely faithful adaptation in that sense: Green doesn’t change the gender pronouns, the numerous dick references, or even the album’s more unsavory lyrics, which drop words like “retarded” and recount the tale of a peeping Tom who’s “seen everything there is to be shown.” All that’s missing are some lame interstitial bits, one of which has bassist Mark Hoppus feeding a dog his own piss, and a lyrical gag about a prison rapist named “Ben Dover”—fret not, though, for “Degenerate” still finds the protagonist’s “nuts attacked by rats.”
Though I love how Green’s chill arrangements highlight Blink’s ear for melody and evoke the stoned, slouched-on-a-couch vibe that clouded so many of my listens, it’s her frozen-in-amber approach that speaks to me the most. Because, as the years go by and these songs calcify in the mind, the dirtiness disappears into the textures, the songs transcending themselves to become their own kind of artifact. There’s a sepia quality to Green’s covers, as if they’ve been filtered through translucent gobs of memory. This feels appropriate since the music we loved as kids always sounds different as we age. Part of getting older, at least for the culturally curious, is discovering strange new notes and surprising, often subjective poignancies within the art you grew up alongside. Poignancy, though, isn’t Green’s endgame. Sure, she excavates the melancholic rage at the heart of “Dick Lips”—a horrible name for one of the LP’s best songs—and the sneering frustration of “Waggy” but she still revels in the rest of the LP’s bad behavior, even at her nonchalant pace. It would be irreverent, after all, if she didn’t.
The project feels, in many ways, like a bold declaration of fandom. By stripping away the noise of Dude Ranch, Green embraces it for the artifact it is, warts and all. Some might find it childish, but, for others, this is growing up.