Sound — 9
After the departure of shredding guitarist, Dave Brownsound, many people had their doubts whether Sum 41's fifth studio album would compare to their previous efforts. However, after purchasing the album on the day of release, I was pleasantly surprised. The record offers various different sounds, ranging from acoustic songs (So Long Goodbye), piano based songs (Ma Poubelle) and faster, heavier songs (The Jester). The guitar is a lot more simplistic without Dave, but Deryck has still managed to write some great, catchy riffs, for example the main riff of 'Underclass Hero' and the outro to 'King of Contradiction'. As far as guitar solos are concerned, do not expect one with the quality of 'In Too Deep' or 'Bitter End, ' but expect one with a more technical approach, like the one found in 'Pull the Curtain' or 'Best of Me.' Sum 41 have obviously looked over their last four albums and picked out the best elements of each. If you're a fan of All Killer No Filler, 'Underclass Hero' and 'Walking Disaster' may suit your needs. If you're a fan of Does This Look Infected? you may prefer songs such as 'The Jester' and 'Pull the Curtain', or if you liked the heavier album, Chuck, you'll enjoy songs such as 'Count Your Last Blessings' and 'King of Contradiction.' Some songs sound nothing like anything the Sums have done before, such as 'With Me' and 'Ma Poubelle.' Deryck has added in piano on a majority of songs plus some fantastic vocal melodies and harmonies, possibly to compensate for the lack of classic Brownsound guitaring. The drums on the record are possibly some of the best on any Sum 41 album, possibly as Steve Jocz is one of the best modern punk rock drummers around. The bass in some songs is barely audible and usually follows the guitar, although some bass lines contribute to the structure of the song e.g 'Walking Disaster.' People have made accusations that Sum 41 have ripped off other bands like Green Day, Yellowcard and My Chemical Romance and stole their songs. I do not believe this is true. Deryck has confirmed no other bands influenced the record.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are some of the best and most personal Deryck has ever written. He gets a lot off his chest about his childhood in the song, Dear Father, explaining 'I'm getting used to knowing you're just a name without a face' and 'you're out there somewhere, I don't know if you care at all, it seems that you don't.' Some songs take a more political approach such as March of the Dogs: 'And now the President's dead because they blew up his head, no more necks to be red, guess to heaven he fled.' This sparked controversy yet this is only acting a metaphor. The single, Underclass Hero's lyrics are very feel good and all about independence: 'We're doing fine, and we don't need to be told, that we're doing fine, because we won't give you control.' Deryck's actual vocal skills are also some of the best seen on a Sum 41 record. He uses his shouting voice on Count Your Last Blessings: 'no one can help me! ' He uses his soft voice on With Me: 'I don't want this moment to ever end.' I was very impressed with Deryck's scream going into the solo of Pull the Curtain, and his angered whispers after it. Overall the lyrics are fantastic and the vocal harmonies, especially on Walking Disaster are great.
Overall Impression — 9
Underclass Hero definitely compares to their previous four albums. I love the fact that Deryck, Cone and Steve carried on after the departure of Dave and came back better than ever. The tracklisting is as follows: 01. Underclass Hero - brilliant way to start off the album, fast, punk rock-like and upbeat. Very feel good and will make the listener intrigued to hear the rest of the album. 02. Walking Disaster - starts off slow and emotional, then kicks in as a very fast tempo punk rock song. Has a great chorus and catchy verse. It slows down again at the end, just the way it started. 03. Speak Of The Devil - once again, starts of slow, then has random outbursts of distorted guitar and loud drums. Has a reasonably good verse and chorus, but not the best song on the album. 04. Dear Father - I was impressed with the lyrics and when the distorted guitar kicks in at the end but a bit more creativity could have been used throughout the rest of the song as it can get a bit dull and sad sometimes. 05. Count Your Last Blessings - one of the heavier tracks, with a piano intro and outro, but some great guitar in the chorus. Also was impressed with the lyrics; 'Misery's best friend, dead beat dead end.' 06. Ma Poubelle - a joke track, similar style to the Beatles, but in French. It's rather amusing and actually quite catchy. Sadly, only lasts under a minute. 07. March Of The Dogs - one of the political songs, similar to Still Waiting and We're All To Blame. This was the first song I ever heard off this album and how now started to wear thin a bit, but nevertheless is still fast, catchy with some cool lyrics. 08. The Jester - has a kinda spooky intro, sounds brilliant when everything kicks in. Also has a nice bridge guitar riff. 09. With Me - one of the slower tracks with an acoustic intro but heavy guitars in the chorus. One of my favourite tracks on the album as it's quite emotional yet still packs a punch. Also has a very cold, sad, piano outro that sent a shiver down the spine. 10. Pull The Curtain - my favourite track on the album, due to the intro riff, guitar solo, Deryck's whispering and the overlapping vocals at the end of the song. 11. King Of Contradiction - another one of my favourite songs off the album. It's short and sweet, yet manages to have one of the catchiest chorus' on the record and one of the best endings to a Sum 41 song I've heard. 12. Best Of Me - after the madness of the previous track, things are taken down a step with this relaxing song. Has a nice technical solo included. 13. Confusion And Frustration In Modern Times - sounds slightly similar with it's chords to some of the other songs on the album, yet still remains a good listen. Also has a great sort of bridge which almost evaluates the album and sums up the theme. 14. So Long Goodbye - a nice way to end the album with acoustic guitar and violins. The song is obviously about Dave and is quite emotional. I have a bonus track on my CD called 'No Apologies' which is another good song but nothing majorly special. If this album was lost or stolen, I'd buy it again instantly. Probably my favourite Sum 41 record and a must have for all fans of their other work.