Saturday, 2 August 2008

Sum 41, Underclass Hero

Sum 41, Underclass Hero
Mercury Records

Some pop history first. Between 1977 and 1983, alternative music developed and mutated a hundred times over, snarling through ‘God Save The Queen’, stealing and reshaping reggae and funk before crash-landing in shapes as diverse as Soft Cell, Joy Division and The Smiths. Had it been possible, the Pistols would never have dared, nor needed, to release another Never Mind The Bollocks after seven years. Ignoring my unintentional comparison with the truly incomparable Johnny Rotten, in the seven years since Sum 41 released their multi-platinum selling album All Killer No Filler the Canadian punk muppets have journeyed through genres as diverse as pop-punk, faster-pop-punk and even pop-punk-metal. Sheesh. When you consider that pop-punk is itself a genre that dates back to the early 90s it seems perverse that anything so generic and repetitive can dare to call itself by the P-word.

Opener and first single ‘Underclass Hero’ is embarrassingly familiar, bearing an almost identical rhythm and melody to 2001’s ‘Fat Lip’. Chief songwriter and husband-of-Avril, Deryck Whibley, has explored marginally more mature themes on this record (absent fathers and George W. Bush) but it’s such a predictable and yawnsome move from the big kids in short trousers that they barely register. The childish political posturing throws up some lyrical clangers too, of which the worst must be: ‘and now the President’s dead/ Because they blew off his head/ No more neck to be red/ Guess to heaven he fled’. Shocking. The band’s weedy manifesto also falls flat by bleeping the lyrics in the CD’s insert – down with the establishment indeed. Then there’s the obligatory stoopid song: devoid of humour and sung in Franglais, it concerns ‘ma petite poubelle’ and finding something in one’s ‘pantalons’. Quite.

But hey, all of this is irrelevant to how pop-punk operates. Fans of this most repellent and outdated of genres stick with it doggedly. Much like the never-ending Scary Movie franchise, Underclass Hero and its predecessors purport to be satire but are nothing more than adolescent poo jokes.


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