For Fans Of
2016 really is the year of nostalgia. Ten-year tours, reunions, South Park’s Member Berries, new Star Wars, and hell even KYS is getting on board with it with our recent album retrospective pieces on Opeth & Underoath respectively. But much more specifically, 2016 has seen a number of new releases from many of the pop-punk heroes of old.
Green Day recently put out an average at best record that was thankfully far better than ‘Uno’ ‘Dos’ & ‘Tre’ (then again a bucket of warm piss is better than that those three.) Blink-182 released ‘California’, which really should’ve been an EP for all of the bland filler it hosted within its track listing. Simple Plan dropped ‘Taking One For The Team’ earlier this year, and while better than the overly poppy ‘Get Your Heart On’, it won’t ever get close to sitting at the cool kid’s table with ‘Still Not Getting Any’ & ‘No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls’. The Voice finally stopped holding Joel Madden and his family at gunpoint for a few seconds and Good Charlotte returned with ‘Youth Authority’ and only further cemented the fact that ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ is still the best thing that band ever put to tape. Oh, and the Descendents did something again… for whatever that was worth.
Now, that’s either a really good year or a really bad year for music depending on where you stand with the pop-punk genre. For me, I was excited for every single one of those releases yet disappointment followed over and over and over again, all in varying degrees. However, much more recently, joining the fray of these “comeback” releases was Sum 41 with ’13 Voices’. This is not only the band’s first record in five years but also their first crowd-funded album as well as their first release for the group as a five-piece. Now, that’s a lot of firsts surrounding this record, but musically and stylistically speaking, this is anything but a first for the group.
And that’s actually for the better! Becuase if you have ever loved, or just simply enjoyed Sum 41, then you will really dig this new record – whether or not you came in on ‘All Killer No Filler‘ or later on with 2011’s ‘Screaming Bloody Murder‘. (If so, it’s okay, we all make mistakes).
The first song, ‘A Murder Of Crows’ begins with a driving string section before it gives way to being an epic stadium rock track and is a really solid intro to the record. Off to a good start so far. ‘Fake My Own Death’ and the title track are decent as they maintain the band’s usual punk rock energy, something the group has retained from their youth, unlike a few of their peers. This is equally true for the fast-paced ‘Goddamn I’m Dead Again‘. Now, Sum 41 have always had a heavy metal influence in their sound and while you definitely wouldn’t classify them as a metal band, a song like ‘There Will Be Blood’ shows these influences well and is by far one of the darker, heavier tracks they’ve written. It’s also one of the album’s better songs by a fucking mile.
However, despite the consistent nature of this record, there are a couple sub par tracks that hold things back. First is ‘War’, which feels like an uninspired B-side from ‘Screaming Bloody Murder’ (which says a lot, really). Yet I have no doubt in my mind that it will become a clear crowd favourite live with the inclusion of piano and acoustic guitar, a slower tempo, and an emphasis on mass sing-alongs which will be getting plenty of punters hands swinging back and forth. The other big single is ‘God Save Us All (Death To POP)’ and as the name suggests, is a song about the strength of rock n’ roll music and the totally emotionless and vapid nature of pop music, man. Because no punk or rock band has ever tackled this issue before.
The opening quote from the song’s music video by Deryck Whibley says:
“The cool thing about playing rock music all over the world is that you get to share this unity through music with other people, and, in my opinion, I think you only get that feeling with rock music, I don’t think you feel anything with pop.”
Anyway, this song is basically the band’s version of Steel Panther’s ‘Death To All But Metal’ except nowhere near as corny, and in a more specific comparison for their genre, akin to Billy Talent’s awful ‘Louder Than The DJ‘. (The riffs and the flow of the vocals in this song really seem like a rejected Rise Against song at times, too). Furthermore, the meaning behind the song is also somewhat ironic, as while Sum 41 are indeed a punk rock band for all intents and purposes, they also have plenty of catchy hooks and a high-level pop-production, as evident by songs like ‘War‘ and ‘Breaking The Chain‘, which is just some massive radio bait.
Careful there, lads, glass houses don’t come cheap.
As for the record’s final two songs, they wrap up things nicely, even if the first half of the record is slightly more memorable. The penultimate track, ‘The Fall And The Rise‘ is the band and their front man defiantly laying claim to their career and their return to the music world after a turbulent few years, especially so for Whibley. The album’s final song is the five minute long ‘Twisted By Design‘ and just like the preceding songs, it shows Sum 41 picking up right where they left five years ago. Save for the fact that this is a damn sight better than ‘Screaming Bloody Murder‘.
’13 Voices’ finds itself in an interesting middle ground. See, Sum 41’s returning album is easily one of the better albums to come from the old guard of the punk/pop-punk genre in 2016. But it is also far from being the band’s best work. I suppose that the issue arises when the new music starts to creep onto the turf of old songs that countless fans have attached their childhood years and youth too. Because you can be sure as shit that as soon as the opening riff of ‘Fat Lip’ hits, all of these new songs will fall by the wayside.
Also, the album is called ‘13 Voices’ but it only has ten songs on it? 0/10, worst album ever.
- A Murder Of Crows
- Goddamn I’m Dead Again
- Fake My Own Death
- Breaking The Chain
- There Will Be Blood
- 13 Voices
- God Save Us All (Death To POP)
- The Fall and the Rise
- Twisted By Design
’13 Voices’ is out now via Hopeless Records.