Review Summary: Revolution for the elderly.
2016 has definitely been a strange year for music; a good year, but one that has had an overwhelming insurgence of old punk bands bringing out new material. A movement in a genre that sees wave after wave of well established punk bands from 20+ years ago coming back to the fold to have their say on things. And who can blame them, with the current state on politics around the world, there is certainly plenty to revolt over. The thing is though, this "punk revolution" has hardly set the world on fire, and the albums these bands are bringing out hardly set a new standard of writing for the genre. Nor have a lot of the bands really said anything wothwhile, that stands next to the worlds current problems; it's a disappointingly wasted opportunity, that -- if looked at cynically -- just seems like old bands are capitalising on a genre that has come back to the mainstream just to fill their pockets once more before it dims out again. This is a bleak way of looking at things, but something I can't shift given the quality of the albums seen thus far in 2016.
Ultimately, the problem is this: the wave of old punkers coming back with a batch of new tunes are largely conveying their music in a creepy manner. Which is understandably down to the genre's tropes; things you can't really move away from without losing something the fans loved about their old music. You can't stray too far away from it, yet a late 30s-40+ year old talking about a girl or a fart joke just feels jarring and strange to listen to. If a band from way back when was lucky enough to avoid the fart jokes being a core staple of their music, they have more of a chance doing something with crediblity, but so far I've only heard bands trying their damnedest to sound fresh and contemporary and failing, because there is just something about how they try and tackle the situation that leaves the music feeling out of touch with the world around them.
Sum 41's new album is probably the best comeback I've heard this year for the genre. This is down to two things: firstly, the band have always had a free spirit and playful edge to their lyrics, but ones which made them lucky enough to avoid the really bad common denominator jokes. They've occasionally had a somewhat light-hearted political side to their lyrics; and this is still evident here, which see the band touching on to some relevancy with things currently going on in today's world with tracks like "Fake My Own Death" and "There Will Be Blood". But most importantly, the album has lyrics that feel genuine and honest and go into problems Deryck has been dealing with in between the comeback album: tracks like "Breaking the Chain", "War" and "Better Days" feel honest and from the heart. The album very rarely slips up with anything cliche or cheesy and everything is constructed well. The second thing 13 Voices
does right is it sticks to its guns and caters to its core fan base; this isn't a collection of songs that try and pander to a newer generation -- there's no sign of any dodgy synth work, autotune or lyrics that feel so out of touch and contrived. Everything is simply laid out and grounded on 13 Voices
, and this is where a lot of credit is given to the album.
The drawback to this album is simply that if you didn't like the band, you won't like them here either. It doesn't pull out any curve balls, it doesn't try to sound like something it isn't -- it is simply a Sum 41 album. And one that takes all the best bits from the highest points of their career and rolls it up into 12 tracks. It's a concise, air tight LP with little let up. "God Save Us All (Death to POP)" is the only track that feels a little flat and repetitive, every thing else on here is full of energy and enjoyable. It's ironic to think that an album made with little deviation from the band's aesthetics could be more fresh and exciting than an album made by another punk band desperately trying to push the boat out with new styles. The most punk thing about 13 Voices
is that it doesn't give a *** if you like it or not. It's Sum 41 through and through, and one that sees the band back on the right track after their ropey 2011 offering.
Editions: MP3, C̶D̶, V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶
Special Edition: Acoustic bonus tracks of "War" and "Breaking the Chain".