by James Fleming
Rife with the hyperbole of adolescent hormones, it’s surprising to note that 13 Voices reeks of boredom. Boredom and greed.
To call it soulless would be wrong, all music has a soul of some sort; be it an honest, righteous soul or a soul stinking of blackness and evil, it all has a soul of some sort.
13 Voices, Sum 41’s latest and sixth offering, is a shameless capitalisation of teenage angst.
Now, one could argue that all rock music is a “shameless capitalisation of teenage angst,” but that would be incorrect.
There’s no question that the very essence of rock music is teenaged and, therefore, that’s where the money comes from: teenagers.
The Beatles wrote songs that appealed to the romance of adolescence, The Sex Pistols catered to the angst. Both were deliciously, intelligently and passionately young.
Then, there was Kurt.
Cobain not only spoke to the hearts and souls of the youth of the early nineties and beyond, but he made a genuine, bona fide, musical impact. His melding of “Black Sabbath and The Beatles,” as the press releases said, was hitherto unexplored territory. One of the last adventurers to make a statement picked up on by the, for want of a better term, “mainstream,” of the day.
For these groups, the music was first and the teenage market was second. On 13 Voices, it sounds like the polar opposite.
It’s 21st century angst by the numbers: dense riffage, vaguely “angsty,” lyrics, an acceptable amount of swearing, the obligatory ballad, heaps of melody. It sounds like a boardroom nodding heir heads.
Not only is it musically uninteresting, and if there’s one thing rock shouldn’t be, it’s boring. But it’s nothing short of a crime of insensitivity.
They’re polishing anger and desperation and selling it to our disaffected young people as “real”. It reaches its zenith on the title of “God Save Us All (Death To Pop).” By separating themselves from the pop stars of the day, they’re striving for a “real,” “authentic,” and “honest,” image. But that’s all it is: an image. And on this record, Sum 41 prove to us that they are, in fact, POP STARS.
Of a most malicious sort. This dishonesty is more deplorable than anything any pop tart has ever released. On the aforementioned “God Save Us All…” they sing: “And our souls we will not sell.”