Adolescent Guilty Pleasure #1: Sum 41

Sum 41 in their classic incarnation (l-r)

Sum 41 in their classic incarnation (l-r): 'Cone' McClasin, Dave Baksh, Whibley, 'Stevo32' Jocz

As the years tick mercilessly past, I find myself occasionally compelled to revisit the music of my younger years, and thus I thought I’d make a series of blogs about what I used to (and still) love about the music of my early teens. Pretty much all people born from about 1986-1994 will know of Canadian pop-skate-rapcore-punk band Sum 41, and I for one remain a devotee of their albums All Killer No Filler and Does This Look Infected?

Sum 41 will always have a sentimental spot in my musical heart for they were the first band I ever went to see live, at Wembley Arena aged 13, supported by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and American Hi-Fi, both of whom, I’m astonished to say, are still going. Back then, Sum 41 were just coming off the release of AKNF at the time, and I still remember the buzz I had getting my – admittedly pink – wristband and entering my first gig.

Mawkish recollections aside, I love me some Sum 41. They were one of the bands I liked back then (some others of which we’ll come onto later) who never took themselves that seriously and seemed to just want to have a laugh most of the time. I mean, how can you take yourself seriously when your lead singer is called Deryck Whibley? It’s essentially impossible.

The two albums I stand by to this day are some of the best pop-punk albums of that era where the market was cramped with shitty groups like Avril Lavigne (who Whibley is ironically married to) and Busted – shudder. Tracks like ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Still Waiting’ became anthems of the generation, and it’s nearly impossible to find anyone from age 16-22 who doesn’t know every word to ‘Fat Lip’. Halcyon days indeed.

Sure, they weren’t the biggest or best band in the world, but Sum 41 in their heyday were immensely popular for those of us who deemed ourselves ‘alternative’ at the time; they knew their market and, outside of Blink-182 and Green Day, were probably the most popular band of this genre.

Album art for All Killer No Filler. Still got no idea whats going on here.

Album art for All Killer No Filler. Still got no idea what's going on here.

Listening to Sum 41 now, obviously it’s aged a bit, as have its fans, but it stands up remarkably well given how angsty it is. I can still listen to them and not have to ask myself why I used to love them so, and they’ve got tracks which translate pretty well to a more ‘adult’ audience like awesome ’80s pastiches ‘Reign In Pain’ and ‘Pain for Pleasure’. Despite their ‘rebellious teen’ lyrics – “I don’t want to waste my time/become another casualty of society/I’ll never fall in line/Become another victim of your conformity” etc. – and fairly rudimentary overall sound, Sum 41 are still a blast to listen to, rekindling memories of sweaty moshing and pubescent angst which can’t help but put a smile on your face.

Sickest tracks: ‘Fat Lip’, ‘In Too Deep’, ‘Rhythms’, ‘Pain for Pleasure’, ‘Makes No Difference’ from All Killer No Filler, ‘The Hell Song’, ‘Still Waiting’, ‘Over My Head (Better Off Dead)’ from Does This Look Infected?

If you like this, you’ll like: A myriad of pop-punk and ska-punk bands. Reel Big Fish – Cheer Up!, Blink-182 – Enema of the State, Green Day – Dookie, Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This To Memory.


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