Monday, February 27

Hear This Not That: Green Day’s album evokes pre-teen nostalgia, Sum 41′s lacks maturity


Green Day’s twelfth studio album “Revolution Radio” offered political lyrics. (Reprise)

Green Day’s twelfth studio album “Revolution Radio” offered political lyrics. (Reprise)


Music fans can find it hard to decide which albums to stream and which to skip, considering the surplus of new music released. Each week, A&E columnist Sean Lee will compare two newly released albums and recommend which one students should listen to. For this installation, Lee compares the throwback sounds of Sum 41′s latest album “13 Voices” with Green Day’s “Revolution Radio.”

Pop punkers Green Day and Sum 41 have managed to transport me back to my angst-ridden middle school adolescence with their Friday album releases.

Both Green Day and Sum 41 have not veered far from their pop punk roots, reveling in the genre’s classic, overly sensitive lyricism and basic four-chord melodies. Although both bands stick to punk’s cookie-cutter formula, Green Day’s twelfth studio album “Revolution Radio” seamlessly combines insightfully political lyrics and sing-song melodies, while Sum 41’s sixth studio album “13 Voices” comes off as overproduced and lyrically immature.

[Last week: Hear This Not That: The Wytches versus The Growlers]

“A Murder of Crows,” the opener from “13 Voices,” begins with an orchestral intro before suddenly breaking into a heavy-metal chug. The abrupt change in styles and overtly distorted guitar makes for a painful listening experience, made worse by frontman Deryck Whibley’s self-righteous lyrics, “I’m getting sick of hypocrites saying nothing.”

The rest of the album contains the same discordant instrumentation and cheesy lyrics as the opener. The wave of phaser effects on “Fake My Own Death” drowns out the band while Whibley’s screaming vocals are overdubbed to the point of incoherency.

The repetitive melody on “God Save Us All (Death to POP)” over the chorus, “Give it to me, give ’til you ain’t got anymore,” paired with double-bass drums and high-gain guitar sounds is as off-puttingly gratuitous as an Ed Hardy shirt at the Hot Topic store. The standout track from “13 Voices” is the closer “Twisted By Design,” where Whibley finally offers a moment of genuine lyricism as he sings about his recent hospitalization due to alcohol poisoning. The touch of personal poignancy is a welcome update from the rest of the album’s sanctimonious clichés.

[Read more: Hear This Not That: Shawn Mendes versus Devendra Banhart]

Unlike the harsh production and recycled lyrics of “13 Voices,” “Revolution Radio” showcases Green Day’s ability to write songs that are lyrically fresh and radio-friendly.

Album opener “Somewhere Now” eases the listener into the album with an arpeggiated acoustic guitar as Billie Joe Armstrong sarcastically sings, “All grown up and medicated on my own cellular waves.” When the entire band joins in for the chorus, I could discern the different riffs and fills as opposed to the chaotic wave of distortion on Sum 41′s “13 Voices.”

Unlike the screaming fragmented melodies on the songs of “13 Voices,” the pulsating choruses of “Say Goodbye” and “Too Dumb to Die” on “Revolution Radio” contain catchy melodies that easily got stuck in my head. Armstrong’s impassioned “oh” vocalizations become easy-to-utter syllables for impromptu singing sessions in the shower.

“Revolution Radio” does alienate listeners at times with Armstrong’s overt, politically leftist lyrics, particularly on the songs “Troubled Times” and “Bang Bang,” but any extremism in lyricism is salvaged with addicting choruses and infectious pop melodies.

“13 Voices,” on the other hand, contains nothing close to musical redemption, with nearly every song blowing out listeners’ ears with indiscernible lyrics and musical heaviness brought on by the grating high gain and trebly production.

Listen to “Revolution Radio” to relive the nostalgic soundtrack of your prepubescent life. Listen to “13 Voices” for a musical experience as uncomfortable as the skinny jeans donned by the band members.

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  • Dustin Parlier

    You seem to have no sense of context behind what the Sum 41 record is all about. This is an extremely biased review.

  • Eli Lesser

    I’m sorry but do you even like pop punk? Cause if not this article makes sense. 13 Voices is a masterpiece

  • Daniel

    You mentioned you like to sing Green Day songs when you’re naked in the shower. That’s cool.. but slaps a big biased stamp on this entire review lol First of all, you’re acting like this is the first time Sum 41 takes on this type of sound.

    They did it with “Chuck” which is one of the best rock albums of all time in my opinion.. and again recently with “Screaming Bloody Murder.” 13 Voices I agree not all the songs are great and some are repetitive. But c’mon, if you’re gonna single out repetitive songs, why don’t you mention “Forever Now” from “Revolution Radio?”
    That 6 minute song is so long and drawn out that it takes me back to the repetitive monster that is “Uno, Dos, and Tre”
    The chorus in “Young Blood” consists of Billie Joe chanting the words “young blood” 6 times in a single chorus. Talk about repetitive. I can go on about the recycled chords they brought back from the latest trio-album release.. but I think you get the idea.

    Sum 41 “Chuck” fans will appreciate songs like “Goddamn I’m Dead Again, Fake My Own Death, 13 Voices, & Black Eyes.” The song “War” is also really catchy even though different from the songs I just mentioned.

    If you’re crazy for Green Day, you’ll love Revolution Radio. If you’re crazy for Sum 41, you’ll love 13 Voices.. if you’re like me and you like both bands to some extent.. you’ll appreciate some stand out songs from each album. If you made it this far… thanks for reading! =)

  • Jack Brodie

    Firstly I’ll say I’m a HUGE fan of both bands but I liked sum 10 years before I got into green day but this review hits the nail on the head. I’m sooooo disappointed with 13 voices (most definitely not a masterpiece) but I love RR.

  • Brett Montrose

    Haven’t heard Revolution Radio to completion, but so far, there’s a no-contest between these two. 13 Voices is much better.

  • Tom

    Terrible review.