At precisely the time that Southern California hardcore was threatening to implode due to its increasingly codified negativity and machismo, Descendents released their full-length debut, Milo Goes to College. The Manhattan Beach band did for hardcore what The Buzzcocks had done for British punk five years earlier: they made the form faster, funnier, and more melodic. The album addressed time-honored themes of hormonal frustration, parental conflict, and the emptiness of suburban culture—but with freshness and authenticity, renewing the freedom and fun of punk rock. With the youthful vocals of singer Milo Aukerman (a biochemistry student at the time) and a musical attack as sugary as it was aggressive, Descendents were the first hardcore group that made it safe to be a nerd. More crucially, the members embraced their identities at a time when not being a “true punk” could get you whipped within the SoCal hardcore community. In that way, Milo Goes to College serves as a crucial reaffirmation of punk’s essential virtue: against everyone else’s expectations, always be true to thyself.