Release Date: Jul 24, 2007
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Sum 41 have always seemed like blink-182's baby brothers, right down to their nonsensical numbers in the name, so it's only appropriate that they're also attempting to grow up just like blink -- or better still, a bit like blink and a bit like Green Day, who have proven to be the standard-bearers for how latter-day punks can grow a social conscience and become mature, as evidenced by American Idiot. Sporting a similar-sounding but not as politically potent title in Underclass Hero, Sum 41's fifth studio album extends upon its predecessor Chuck's deliberate attempt at getting serious and relevant, containing just enough garbled commentary and political platitudes to not only give the impression that the bandmembers are saying something beyond their beloved clichés, but to give the impression that they're telling a story, creating an anthem for the "underclass hero," the slacker who can't be labeled as an underachiever because he never attempts to achieve. The first few songs here -- the fists-in-the-air wannabe anthem title track, the narcissistic self-loathing "Walking Disaster" -- hit as hard as processed pedal distortion can, but Sum 41 (now down to a trio after the departure of guitarist Dave Baksh) soon abandon any larger narrative as they start to stretch out with acoustic guitars, keyboards, and Queen harmonies uncannily reminiscent of My Chemical Romance's more conceptually cohesive The Black Parade.
Review Summary: Painted the album as a faster, punker American Idiot, the reality is that the music is inoffensive and overproduced, and the political posturing is comical at best. Everybody’s played them. You know those puzzles you do as a child where you’re given two seemingly identical pictures and asked to circle the alleged “differences.