Sum 41's latest fails to be infectious

Review by Jack Foley

DESCRIBED by Noel Gallagher as 'the shittiest band ever', Canadian four-piece, Sum 41, return with their eagerly-anticipated follow-up to All Killer, No Filler, the affectionately titled Does This Look Infected?

The good news is that fans of angst-ridden, dumb teenage rock will find plenty to jump about to; the bad news is, very few other listeners will.

Coming across as louder and less fun than usual, Does This Look Infected? finds the band in a more mature frame of mind, and a lot more aggravated. Citing musical influences such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Sum 41 have moved into altogether more darker territory, forgoing the infectious fun of tracks such as In Too Deep and Fat Lip in favour of social commentary and shout-filled rants against society.

When it works, it can be effective - as in the first single, Still Waiting, which begins with the lyrics, 'So am I still waiting, for this world to stop hating' and just gets angrier.

But tracks such as A.N.I.C, which find the band proclaiming that 'you're an arsehole and you make me sick', are a simple waste of time. Were it not for the shortness of the track (a mere 37 seconds), you'd be reaching for the skip button - if you could make it there in time.

Elsewhere, tracks such as No Brains aptly sum up the sort of effort the band has put into composing musical melodies and catchy rifts (there are none!), while Over My Head (Better Off Dead) seems an appropriate metaphor for the direction they have taken.

There are moments when the catchy, boyish, skate punk sound that helped to launch them breaks through, as in All Messed Up (a future single?) and opening track, The Hell-Song, but this only makes you pine for a return to the carefree days of old.

Sadly, there are few and far between, as the band seems content to drift towards darker, more gothic material (if the artwork on the CD is anything to go by). Mr Amsterdam, for instance, begins with the sort of pounding guitar rifts enjoyed by heavy metallers (and Leppard, in particular), while Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condrioid merely sounds the same as earlier tracks on the album.

Thanks for Nothing starts promisingly, with some gentler guitar, before giving over to the trademark sound of the album, while things get really loud for the UK finale, Reign in Pain (Heavy Metal Jamboree) and WWVII Parts 1 & 2 - which really do indicate a more thrashy direction.

The only quiet moment to be found is at the end of Hooch, when a different, more mellow direction is suggested during the second half of the song. This is a track which genuinely surprises by daring to sound different - yet it is quickly forgotten, blown away by the aforementioned UK bonus material.

Fun in places, then, but as the humour begins to fade, so does the allure.

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Track listings:

1. The Hell Song
2. Over My Head (Better Off Dead)
3. My Direction
4. Still Waiting
5. A.N.I.C.
6. No Brains
7. All Messed Up
8. Mr. Amsterdam
9. Thanks For Nothing
10. Hyper-Insomnia-Para-Condrioid
11. Billy Spleen
12. Hooch
13. Reign In Pain (Heavy Metal Jamboree)
14. WWVII Part II