Sum 41
Underclass Hero



by Mikesn EMERITUS
July 20th, 2007 | 19 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sum 41 returns to its poppier roots and manages to craft a fun, enjoyable album.

When a band claims to return to a sound heard on their earlier records, it isn't often a good prospect. How many bands have taken the easy way out, opting for the tried, tested, and true formula, only for it to turn out bland and tired" It's happened countless times, no doubt about that, and when Canadian pop-punk band Sum 41 announced that the group's latest full length album, Underclass Hero, would reflect that of previous outings (i.e. All Killer No Filler, Does This Look Infected"), one would have to wonder if the Ajax, Ontario based group would mean the same dreary fate. But no, fortunately for the act and its fan base, Underclass Hero is quite the fun, entertaining album. But even more importantly, the pop-punkers have been able to put past hardships (particularly the loss of long time lead guitarist Dave Baksh) behind them and have crafted a good album worth listening to.

Underclass Hero takes Sum 41 away from the heavier, almost metal-influenced punk heard on Chuck. In its place is a 49 minute record which, as I mentioned, sounds a lot like the band could have released it in 2001. Indeed, their fifth release is unabashedly pop-punk by numbers. Catchy song writing based around simple, often fast paced guitar riffs, frontman Deryck Whibley's melodic singing, and well, energy. Such a formula is quite distinguishable in most of the tracks, including the two singles Walking Disaster and Underclass Hero (both containing the same rebellious gusto found on All Killer), but is perhaps best put to use in the song Count Your Last Blessings. Perhaps the strongest song musically, the track makes use of short bursts of angry, quick-paced guitar work as well as sombre piano based verses. Whibley's vocal efforts are also a large part of the song, however here his effort is more mid-raged and rougher sounding and fits in perfectly with the irate overtones of the chorus. With that in mind, Underclass Hero does feature a more mature side to the band, and surprisingly (aside from perhaps Count Your Last Blessings) it is these moments where Sum 41 shines the most. The likes of Dear Father, Best of Me, and So Long Goodbye are some of the record's slower songs, but despite the lack of energy, the band manages to craft them in an entertaining, enjoyable manner. Best of Me in particular conveys the regretful themes stressed in its music and lyrics extremely well and is perhaps the most impressive moment of the album.

But what really holds back Underclass Hero is not a lack of great, entertaining songs. Nah, the real drawback in Sum 41's latest endeavour is that several of the tracks sound like they've been heard countless times before. Indeed lead single and title track sounds a lot like Fat Lip. Songs like March of the Dogs and Speak of the Devil do resemble a series of past tracks. But the fast, pop-punk-esque tracks aren't the only offenders in this regard. The album's highlight, Best of Me, sounds an awful lot like Blue October's Hate Me, though this "version" so to speak is a lot less depressing and performed better on virtually all aspects. In King of Contradiction listeners are subject to chugging riffs which sound suspiciously close to the ones heard on Black Sabbath's Children of the Grave. Yeah, you get the point. The music is enjoyable, but it's difficult not to take off points for originality.

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. Apart from Count Your Last Blessings and perhaps King of Contradiction the heavily metal influenced direction which was prevalent in Chuck seems to have been generally abandoned, and with the loss of guitarist Dave Baksh there aren't solos to spice up the music, yet despite this the act manages to find away to remain entertaining. If you haven't enjoyed Sum 41's past material than checking this out is fairly pointless (unless you have a lot of time on your hands or are a masochist – by all means check it out) as it doesn't really make an effort to differentiate from the likes of All Killer No Filler. On the other hand if you're into the likes of Green Day, Blink-182, Gob etc, than Underclass Hero is definitely an album worth looking into, as it pieces together all the elements which make the genre so enjoyable to listen to.

Recommended Tracks:
Best of Me
Count Your Last Blessings
Walking Disaster
Dear Father

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user ratings (943)
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (1.5)
Giving Sum 41 the benefit of the doubt, this album is still too pop-oriented for its own good....

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

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

Jimmyfree450 (4.5)
Plain and simple, this album rocks from start to finish....

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 21st 2007


Could be either 3 or 3.5, feeling a little generous right now.

July 21st 2007


Nice review...not sure if I'm going to check this out or not yet.

July 21st 2007


Don't bother - it's a horrible cd. I got it and it sounds like Green Day and Blink had a really ugly down syndrome baby. The songs are very boring and extremely predictable. I'll admit, I'm not the biggest Sum 41 - and this definitely didn't do any good to get my attention on future releases.

July 21st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Good review, however I think there was lots of progress shown in this album. UCH is the most unique of all of sum's albums IMO.

July 21st 2007


good review, i cant stand these guys cause they are either copying someone else or remaking their old tracks, i might give a few a listen if there is some decent pop-punk on the album

July 21st 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

I listened to to it a few days ago when it was streaming on some website... I wasn't impressed at all. I missed the sound they had on Chuck, and was never a huge fan of All Killer, No Filler... not rating it though cause I only heard it once.

dub sean
July 21st 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

I thought this was horrible. They need Dave back.

July 21st 2007


^You're a real road scholar.

Too bad for me, I never got into Sum way back when, and this sounds like a bad rehash of some of their older work, so far. Chalk it up to lowered standards.

Electric City
July 21st 2007


The first single is a remake of Fat Lip.

The Sludge
July 22nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

The first single is Fat Lip.This Message Edited On 07.22.07

July 22nd 2007


was this album leaked?
because i thought it didnt come out till the 24th

July 22nd 2007


Album Stream:

July 23rd 2007


Interesting. I immediately thought of Hoobastank's The Reason when I heard it. Fantastic review
Eh, I've never listened to Hoobastank, so maybe that fits more. But it's the chorus which sounds especially similar to Hate Me.

August 1st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Who cares what the music is similar to, it's just fun to listen to. For God's sake, can't everyone just stop dissing the album because some songs sound like others.

August 1st 2007


Ok, sorry.

dub sean
August 1st 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

Who cares what the music is similar to, it's just fun to listen to.

No it isn't.

August 1st 2007


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Oh, sod off.

August 29th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

very good review. i love this album but you're definitely right about originality. the chorus in The Jester sounds a looot like the chorus in House of Wolves by My Chemical Romance

March 15th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

i agree with pretty much everything, nice review.

its really a great pop punk album that sums up its genre

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