This is the sound of a band desperate to shed the bratty image that brought them to...
Kate Sharp 2007
It appears that Sum 41 are fast becoming the Derek Wibley show: the album produced, mixed and written by Wibley, the cover art is a black and white picture of the solitary singer making the Underclass Hero title is seemingly loaded. Five albums into their career and recently losing founding member Dave ‘Brownsound’ Baksh to creative differences, this is the sound of a band, if not one particular member, desperate to shed the bratty image that brought them to notoriety.
Part political paeans, part snotty punk and part highly personally emotional exorcisms, Underclass Hero is a curious mix of sounds. With the tide now turned against pop punk, a disjointed album sounding like a collection of Blink 182 b-sides may not be enough to save this band.
Although their song writing skills have undoubtedly developed and improved since those early days, with a greater emphasis on the wider world, there is still something that is lacking with this album. “March Of The Dogs” opens with 'The president of the United States is dead' but falls flat, devoid of any of the intellectual punch of bands like ''Rise Against Or Against Me''.
“Walking Disaster” is pure Enema Of The State-era Blink 182 with its highly emotional overtones sung out over a flurry of guitars slowly ramping up to a frenetic mêlée of noise but you can’t help feeling that this has been done before, probably by Sum 41.
That is not to say this album is not without its merits, closing track “So Long Goodbye” is pure lighters in the air, acoustic balladry but smacks of Greenday’s “Time Of Your Life”. With a swell of strings and Wibley’s voice sounding not to dissimilar to Billie Joe Armstrong, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was the latest offering from Greenday.
Underclass Hero tries to divorce itself from the pop-punk sound that was so popular six years ago, but it falls flat. Lacking the political integrity that they were seemingly aiming for or the anthemic qualities of the NOFX’s and Rancid’s of this world, this is ultimately a disappointing effort.