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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Sum 41 album lacks maturity

New Sum 41 album lacks maturity

Underclass Hero,” an obvious allusion to John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” is the newest offering from Canadian punk pop rockers Sum 41, and is less than fulfilling. After three full-length albums and over 7 million records sold, you may remember the boys whose hits include “Fat Lip,” “In Too Deep” and “Pieces.”

When it first hit the scene, the high-energy, fast-paced release of Sum 41’s unique brand of punk rock was a refreshing new take on pop music, at a time when soft rock singer-songwriter types like Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch dominated the airways. Now it seems Sum 41’s run may be coming to a close. No one can possibly explain to me how on earth this album sounds significantly different than their last three major albums.

Sure, they experiment a bit on tracks like “Ma Poubelle,” which translated from French means “My Garbage Can,” a short interlude sung entirely in French and featuring some nice Cabaret-style music. But other than the occasional odd drum line or out of key atmospheric guitar effect, Sum 41 offers next to nothing maturity-wise. The only saving grace, developmentally, was a song aptly named “Best of Me,” in which, together with the greatly matured lyrics and softer music, Sum 41 creates an escape from the drudgery of the rest of the album and a track which saves it from mediocrity.

That’s not to say “Underclass Hero” is no good at all. The old Sum 41 sound still stands up and shouts in your face on “Confusion and Frustration in Modern Times” and “March of The Dogs”. And the piano in songs like “The Jester” and “Pull The Curtain” is revitalizing and carries the rest of the album when it gets boring toward the middle. The layered guitars on the song “Underclass Hero” among other places is a nice touch that Sum 41 has brought to their music before. Another interesting artistic choice is the use of extreme reverb and echo, megaphone effects, and harmonizing of vocals throughout the entire album giving almost every song the anthem feel of “Still Waiting” off their sophomore album “Does This Look infected” and a poppy vocal layering effect reminiscent of Relient K.

“Underclass Hero,” as an entire album, sounds a lot like Green Day’s 2004 album “American Idiot”; the vocals, the guitars, and even the drums on some songs reflect back, with great comparability, the very core of Green Day’s concept album.

Overall, out of a scale of five stars, I would give “Underclass Hero” two and a half. There was no obvious effort to substantially change their sound and there certainly was little evidence of maturing. But all-in-all what Sum 41 brought to the table this time around was the old rip-your-head-clean-off punk, or what little they have left of it, rockers everywhere crave.