Sum 41
Underclass Hero


1.5
very poor

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 12th, 2010 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Giving Sum 41 the benefit of the doubt, this album is still too pop-oriented for its own good.

The punk scene has always been one to draw a ruthless quantity of criticism. Sum 41 isn’t a particularly unique band, but their efforts over the last decade have done enough to distinguish them from their peers. Albums such as “All Killer No Filler”, “Does This Look Infected?”, and “Chuck” were all highly praised, critically acclaimed punk albums that seemed to establish Sum 41 as poster boys of the genre. But while these were all admittedly good, they never branched out from that territory. That’s where “Underclass Hero” chimes in, with its pop-sensibility and shameless attempts to create the band’s very own American Idiot.

It all started with Sum 41 trying to find their image as a band. With the loss of guitarist Dave Baksh, whose riffs kept “Chuck” rather interesting, and disagreements within the band as to whether or not Sum 41 should even continue, they desperately needed to do something to recapture the magic. While most bands attempting to establish an image rip off of other artists, Sum 41 was too respectable of a band to do something that atrocious. Instead, they ripped off of themselves and created a murky, watered-down version of their smash single “Fat Lip” to kick things off. This song, “Underclass Hero”, which is structurally identical to the aforementioned 2001 hit, does everything it can to remind listeners of what once made the band intriguing and somewhat unique. Unfortunately, it also does nothing to show that they have improved. Even more unfortunately, the song represents some of the album’s best work.

Okay, I lied about Sum 41 not ripping off of their peers. The entire album is riddled with songs that sound like second rate Green Day and Blink-182 b-sides. Take “Walking Disaster” for example. Derrick Whibley tries as hard as he can to duplicate Tom Delonge’s vocals in the first few verses (at which point anyone must stop and ask, for God’s sake, why?) before the “breakdown” and finally a standard Sum 41 chorus. Also in the same category is the album’s closer, “So Long Goodbye”. Creative stuff. This time it sounds like Whibley literally went right ahead and ripped out Billy Joe Armstrong’s vocal chords and had them implanted. With lyrics like “Time passes by direction unknown, you’ve left us now but we’re not alone…” one must stop to ponder if this is Sum 41 taking a stab at making their own version of “Good Riddance” only without the good lyrics or sincere sentiment. I’m sorry Sum 41, but you will never stand alongside Blink and Green Day as masters of pop-punk. And no, no one will ever love you like people love them. Be happy with where you stand (or I should say once stood) and leave your better counterparts alone.

By the time the album reaches tracks such as “March of the Dogs” and “The Jester” it would almost appear as if the band has taken my advice. But alas, they go right ahead and start imitating their lesser peers. The chorus of “The Jester” sounds suspiciously similar to My Chemical Romance’s “House of Wolves” from The Black Parade. This theory fits right in with Sum 41’s ambition to create a concept album, which is not only evidenced by the American Idiot-esque lyrics throughout “March of the Dogs” but also by their attempts to create a seamless flow between the two songs. It may not be immediately noticeable, but there are also some clear Avril Lavigne influences here. All jokes aside, listen to “My Happy Ending” and “With Me” back to back. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to find out that Avril had a small hand in helping her husband write that song (her husband of that time, seeing as this was before the divorce. I was going to make a joke about this album potentially leading to the split, until I realized that Avril doesn’t have the musical keenness to recognize a horrendous album when she hears it…so never mind…). To top things off, “Best of Me” sounds eerily akin to Blue October’s “Hate Me”, yet another song that was popular around the time of this album’s release. Just saying.

Giving Sum 41 the benefit of the doubt and assuming that any similarities between these songs and other works are purely coincidental, this album is still too pop-oriented for its own good. Following a hardcore-geared album like Chuck, Underclass Hero just rings hollow. It lost Sum 41 a good portion of its original fan base, and even those who don’t mind it seem to be indifferent towards it at best. The truth is Sum 41 had to see this massive failure coming. The entire concept behind the album is pretentious, and they go all out to make people realize it with the 56 second, French-spoken, mid-album dud “Ma Poubelle”. The truth is that they would have been better off taking “Speak of the Devil”, “Dear Father”, “Count Your Last Blessings” and “Pull the Curtain” and creating a decent EP. Instead, they took the only new/unique material and surrounded it with the heard-it-before circus that is the rest of the Underclass Hero album. Sum 41 still has a chance to turn things around, but if they continue down the path they are headed, their fans will be singing “So Long Goodbye” to them.



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user ratings (745)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
Jimmyfree450 (4.5)
Plain and simple, this album rocks from start to finish....

Steven McMahan (2.5)
Rivaled only by Minutes to Midnight as the biggest disappointment of 2007, Sum 41 return to the pop ...

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (3.5)
Sum 41 returns to its poppier roots and manages to craft a fun, enjoyable album....

Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF (1)
Painted the album as a faster, punker American Idiot, the reality is that the music is inoffensive a...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2010


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

First attempt at writing a negative review. Let me know what you think.

Digging: Low Roar - 0

Gyromania
February 12th 2010


16088 Comments


Not even going to bother checking this out. Good review

Phantom
February 12th 2010


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

sucks

*album

BigHans
February 12th 2010


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're a very good writer. The only thing I would suggest is taking out the "I" stuff.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2010


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Duely noted. I was unsure of it myself as I was writing those few sentences. It was probably the fastest I've ever written a review, I just typed what I was thinking.

I'll probably edit it. In fact I will now I guess.

Gyromania
February 12th 2010


16088 Comments


You're a very good writer. The only thing I would suggest is taking out the "I" stuff.

This is not always a bad thing, and if written well I'm not entirely sure why people care about this, as it is the writer's perspective.


SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2010


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

I left some of it in and took some of it out. Whatever lol.

Oblivioncry
February 12th 2010


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's a really good review.

but i don't agree with most of it. especially the tom delong part. Walking Disaster is one of the best song on the album and the soft vocals in the beginning sound way better than most of tom delong's stuff.

it's a pop punk album and not pink floyd. of course most of the stuff will remind one of other contemporary pop-punk pears.

as mike pointed out in his review and in much better words than i could:
With Underclass Hero, Sum 41 isn't reinventing their musical style. They don't really progress at all, and seem to be content in resting on their laurels. But despite this, they're still crafting simple, decent little anthems that are fun to sit back and chill out to.



BigHans
February 12th 2010


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Guess it all depends on whether you're gunning for professionalism or trying to get a point across. To each their own, great job nontheless.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 12th 2010


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

oblivioncry: i'm not doubting that it can be good background music, or even fun...but i'm just looking at it strictly from a musical standpoint...it takes a big step back from chuck. but i can respect people who listen to music simply for its "enjoyability". i actually envy that. i always read into the technical aspects so much that sometimes i can't enjoy something simply for what it is.

bighans: this one i was just trying to get my point across. my review for the devil and god are raging inside me is more of a professional review. i agree that you generally shouldn't have a lot of first person language in an objective work.

Gyromania
February 12th 2010


16088 Comments


It has nothing to do with professionalism in this case

TheSpirit
February 12th 2010


18001 Comments


Chuck was their best album

Digging: The Speed of Sound in Seawater - Red Version

Rationalist
February 12th 2010


880 Comments


Hey Gyromania, I think that this album is really bad because I don't like the way that I heard it was supposed to be a punker American Idiot and it was not the American Idiot I knew. Their other albums were better in my opinion because I can catch a hook now and again and its not offensive to my person which is something I appreciate. I think that every single person should listen to me as I speak right now and say, "I'm not going to buy this album." In my opinion that would be a perfect world because I think this album is bad.



TheSpirit
February 12th 2010


18001 Comments


I've always wanted to give this a listen, but when i heard they took a step down from chuck, i kinda gave up on it prematurely.

renegadestrings
February 12th 2010


1469 Comments


good review but i have to strongly disagree with your opening paragraph where you talk about how Does This Look Infected? and Chuck never branced out of pop-punk territory. Especially the latter... it contained many metal influences and songs that were much deeper and purposeful than anything they had recorded before

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2010


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

i can see your point...but to be fair, they were trying to branch out more than actually doing so

renegadestrings
February 13th 2010


1469 Comments


well sometimes Sowing, you gotta look yourself straight in the eye and say "when in rooome"

qwe3
February 13th 2010


21368 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

"Ma Poubelle" is so cool, and I can occasionally listen to the title track but after that it makes me want to kill everything in the world

DirEnRefused
February 13th 2010


2241 Comments


Good review, but I think you were too in depth with how Sum 41 ripped off other bands.

RobbaqPL
February 15th 2010


162 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

I actually lost any respect I ever had for this band after this one. I have no idea how one can actually pull off a rip-off this size and get away with it. "With Me" is nice, though, but other than that... Ouch. And I actually put my hopes up after "Chuck". Nice reviewm by the way.



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