Album Review by Kris Griffiths
I’ll get straight to the point. Sum 41, Blink 182… I’m not a big fan of band names that sound like characters you’d find in an internet chat room. Bizzy D (Sum 41 lead singer), Stevo 32 (drummer)… I’m also not a big fan of band members’ names that sound like email address names. I’m generally not a big fan of juvenile geek-pop-punk AMERICAN PIE soundtrack bands. However… I happen to be a huge fan of ironic album titles that are just asking for trouble: Michael Jackson’s recent flop INVINCIBLE is a good example. Meanwhile, Sum 41’s dumb debut offering ALL KILLER NO FILLER contains all the killer bite of a toothless gerbil.
One can think of many contemporary rock acts whose style is predominantly influenced by one other band, Primal Scream / Rolling Stones for instance, but Sum 41have set themselves the sole rewarding goal of being a younger, dumber Green Day right down to the basic three-chord three-minute track formula that saturates their album. Then there’s the lead singer’s Billy Joe duplicate live style and the band’s constant pulling of funny faces for photo-shoots and album sleeves: it all forms a winning recipe that will secure their place in teenagers’ hearts from London to LA. Not that any of them will be old enough to spot the Iron Maiden allusion in the opening INTRODUCTION TO DESTRUCTION. But from then onwards it’s all familiar territory.
The tracks frenetically fly by in a squall of simply strung powerchords and lyrics strewn with frivolous adolescent angst. We get songs that become indistinguishable, in both musical and lyrical content, from each other and from the songs of their famed predecessors. Take Green Day’s LONGVIEW – you know, the one about sitting around all day with nothing to do but bash the bishop- then take Sum 41’s HEART ATTACK. With its chorus couplet of “Why get up my morning doesn’t start till two / forget waking up reality is hard to do”, not only is it lyrically identical but the basic chord sequence is exactly the same too. Elsewhere on the album we get NEVER WAKE UP (“I plan on never waking up / I plan on never waking up”) and MOTIVATION (“Maybe it’s just something I can’t admit / but lately I feel like I don’t give a shit”), the main riff of which, if you listen carefully, is just the IN TOO DEEP chorus speeded up.
I could go on for ages about this one-dimensional, predictable and unoriginal goof-rock mess, but sadly the youthful Canadian quartet will doubtless go on to sell millions of records and sell out massive arena tours. Where Green Day is the musical equivalent to cheese-on-toast, Sum 41 would just be toast. But, I guess, to most young students a pile of toast makes a perfectly adequate meal.