It’s been 5 years since we’ve heard new Sum 41 music. They’ve been around since 1996 and hold a key place in the original pop punk movements history. But pop punk has been forced to change, and with singer Deryck Wibley out of the game on a number of occasions in the last 5 years since their 5th album, Screaming Bloody Murder, it’s often felt like Sum 41 were a band lost to the 90’s. Wibley has had everything from back injuries, hypothermia, and an admittance to rehab after he “Started a party that kinda went on for a year”. It was largely accepted that Sum 41 were a thing of the past, too far gone to drag themselves back into the crazy world of mainstream pop punk fame.
Despite all this, the four Canadians have decided to put the band back together for another bout of pop punk that almost doesn’t feel real. Just hearing “Sum 41 are back with new music” was enough to brighten the day of any individual who had owned a radio in the 90’s, even if no one was expecting anything particularly spectacular from a group that had already been written off years ago. Surprisingly, 13 Voices is less a write-off and more a picking up point for a new generation who might have missed out on their metal meets pop punk fusion back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Little has changed when it comes to how Sum 41 approach their music, pushing out catchy riffs and chanted choruses through this album as they have successfully for the last two decades. It could have easily resulted in a dated album, out of place in a music scene that’s kept moving while the band stopped to catch their breath. Largely this isn’t the case, with 13 Voices working as an entertaining trip down memory lane.
The only real issue here is that Sum 41 listeners have aged. It’s unlikely what you found cool back in Sum 41’s prime is still anything but embarrassing. Everything from the gang vocals on There Will Be Blood, the entire track God Save Us All (Death to Pop), yes that’s an actual track title, and even their album cover, have to be taken as a tongue in cheek joke whether they’re meant to be or not.
If you can comfortably do that through 13 Voices, it’s a pretty entertaining ride, it’s catchy, if a little cheesy, and the band aren’t sounding like they’ve lost the passion that seemed to burst from them back when they formed. We like to hear music that’s pushing boundaries and introducing us to something new, but every now and then it’s nice to stop and reflect on what came before, and Sum 41 are keeping the past very much alive, if exactly the same as it was.