Sum 41

sum-41-5002d9de07e67Sum 41 may seem an odd band for to be plugging on here, mainly for the fact that I have no doubt everyone reading this will have heard of them. Everyone I know will remember their early teens being littered with hits by the Canadian punk-pop outfit, their most famous obviously being ‘Fat Lip’. But the reason I feel this post is warranted is because it appears they’re a band that’s been forgotten, remembered fondly but no longer have a place on the iPod, however I would argue that if people gave their new stuff a listen they would be surprised at what they find, in my opinion Sum 41 have been improving with every album.

Back in the day I remember Sum 41 being a favourite amongst the boom of pop punk in the late nineties and early noughties, along with Blink, Good Charlotte, The Offspring and American Idiot-era Green Day. People first started taking notice of them with their debut album All Killer No Filler for a lot of people I think that’s where their love for them both started and finished. It’s injustice really considering this is actually their worst record, it’s eclipsed by the groups original EP, Half Hour of Power and a lot of the songs on the album were taken from that record the only good additions were the aforementioned ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘In Too Deep’ which are now the songs the band are known for. Their follow-up Does This Look Infected? was just as popular at the time and a far superior album. Although nowadays when I talk to people Infected? is much less remembered. When I go back and listen to the record now this is where you can start to see the potential for a serious band, they’re still joking around but there’s some very strong instrumentation and well structured and thought out songs.

It was in 2004 with the release of Chuck were the group really changed their focus and with it lost their commercial success and in retrospect the love of teenage fans. I must admit, I didn’t care for it when it came out I was still more interested in the jokey/poppy stuff that was coming out of Blink or Good Charlotte. Chuck saw Sum 41 start to write about some serious topics after the band had a near death experience on tour and were saved by a man named Chuck, the album though is not without its catchy hooks and fun songs but ultimately was a lot darker than their previous work and perhaps they were still maturing in their musicality as well back then. It wasn’t until 2007’s Underclass Hero that I began to take notice again, having matured massively myself I was heading into the darker side of rock moving towards the emo side of things and while everyone was looking elsewhere I cam across my old friends Sum 41 again and Underclass Hero was breath of fresh air. Combining the more complex emotions I was experiencing in late adolescence with the fun riffs and simplicity of the pop punk that had got me into rock music in the first place. It quickly became one of my favourite albums and to this day I still very much enjoy listening to it.

Their latest album Screaming Bloody Murder furthers their transformation into a serious rock group, the lyrics littered with pain and hurt that may have come from lead singer, Deryck Whibley’s divorce to his wife Avril Lavigne. The music on this record is so well structured it is at times hard to believe these are the same guys that brought us that simple pop music from our childhoods. Sum 41 produce music of top quality these days, go have a listen to their new stuff and I promise you won’t be disappointed, also their documentary to accompany Screaming Bloody Murder is a fun watch as well so here it is:

 

¡Dos!

green-day-dosWell following on from last weeks review of ¡Uno! this week I have ¡Dos! to evaluate. This time I have to admit it is much easier to get that rant going that I was planning. Kicking off with ‘See You Tonight’ your expectations are lowered immediately, acoustic, slow, plain and completely out of place putting this as the opener is one of the most uninspired decisions they could have made, in fact really its inclusion on the album as a whole is quite strange. It’s probably some lame attempt to recreate ‘Good Riddance (The Time of Your Life)’ but one that falls very short of the mark. Afterwards though, I suppose, the quality of the rest of the album doesn’t really provide anything much better.

Thankfully, the run times of the songs are particularly short but whereas back in the old days of Green Day short songs would leave you wanting more ¡Dos! just leaves you being glad it’s over. It’s certainly a step up from 21st Century… and American Idiot but quite a large step down from the surprising ¡Uno! the trio here manage to fully slump back into auto-pilot making the record ultimately tired and boring.

There are a few stand-out moments, ‘Lazy Bones’ reminds me a lot of ‘Basket Case’ and actually is fun to listen with lyrics that would be great to sing along to. There are a few really good guitar solos here as well, rescuing songs such as ‘Fuck Time’ which would otherwise be left completely dead in the water. The album trickles into even more dross as it drags on the closing track ‘Amy’ being particularly dreary and just plain shit. ‘Nightlife’ doesn’t even bear talking about, all I’ll say is let’s just forget that ever happened.

If ¡Dos! is anything to go by it makes me wonder why they bothered making this into a trilogy, there a few good moments here and a few more good ones on ¡Uno!, if ¡Tre! follows the same pattern, which it probably will, it leaves me wondering why they didn’t just combine the good moments of all three and just make one really good album that would win back all the lost fans? With ¡Dos! I’m afraid it doesn’t fill me with hope for the future of Green Day.

¡Uno!

Well two parts of Green Day’s new trilogy are now upon us. But it has taken me this long to give the first part a listen, as we all know Green Day are now shit so I thought I’d give it a listen so I could have a good rant. Unfortunately, my opinion of the album was not quite as clear cut as that, but let me know if you agree with me.

Green Day’s last two albums, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, are incredibly bad records. It seemed that Green Day had got incredibly pretentious and actually started believing they had some kind of statement to make. A confusing choice considering they’re a band that are known for being simplistic, those two album seemed to be saying they’re more than that. Obviously they are not and with ¡Uno! it appears that they may have actually begun to realise that. It often feels like a hark back to their old, more original and better, sound.

When I first heard Kill the DJ I must admit I hated it. I thought it was another nail being hammered into the trio’s coffin but actually since listening to the album a few times my mind has been completely changed. Kill the DJ is actually the biggest step in the right direction Green Day have had in years. Stripping down the music back to basics, because let’s face it none of them are actually good musicians, and singing about something that doesn’t matter. The catchy chorus genuinely does show you what made Green Day good in the first place. They’re not ground-breaking by any means but they can make a good tune that can stick in your head and is incredibly easy to listen to.

That’s not say, though, that there aren’t moments of shitness here. As an album by the halfway point it gets a bit tired and the second half of the album drags, with every song sounding the same. It’s weakest points come Oh Love and Angel Blue. The latter sounds like a re-hash of about 100 previous Green Day songs that have exact some structure and insanely similar sounding riffs. The former being just over five minutes of a boring two-bar song that seems to repeat itself over and over without changing.

This album definitely sounds like a step in the right direction, it seems much more like the original Green Day that was so fresh and listenable and manages to drive the band away from their over-complicated political albums that were so poor. As an album it’s a fun listen but it does beg the question that maybe Green Day should have just stopped while they were ahead, they struggle to kkeep up the quality on this disc and it makes me worried to see how they’ve managed to get three albums of this material. Still, we’ll see what happens, review of ¡Dos! to come next week.