What happens when we get old? It’s a question that the Descendents have been mulling over for almost 40 years. Even as kids barely out of high school, the progenitive pop-punk band approached the thought of outgrowing adolescence with a mix of abject terror and jaded surliness. While their SoCal hardcore peers during the 1980s were wrestling with bigger thematic fish like police brutality and other social ills, the Descendents focused their angst on unrequited crushes, shitty adults, and other scrappy, teenage fodder. That was their world, and they largely scoffed at anything and everything outside of it.
To that end, the Descendents could arguably be the perfect punk band, or at least the most relatable. Punk rock is at its heart a youth movement, and few punk bands have successfully wrapped their arms around the doldrums of suburban life like the Descendents. From 1982 to 1987, the band churned out classic, adrenalized punk tunes about girls, bikes, caffeine, and food. Their songs were dopey but heartfelt, sugary sweet but still steeped in early American hardcore. They were every bit as pissed and alienated as Black Flag, but they traded in the hostility and violence for a nerdish sense of humor. The Descendents gave hardcore the pop treatment, a combination that essentially made them pop-punk forefathers.