On their seventh studio album, Order in Decline, Sum 41 wastes little time in describing the state of the world we are living in. And they do a great job of summarizing the feeling of growing up in a country where the leader seems to suck the life out of everything that we once held so dear. Sum 41 have delivered their late career masterpiece and they have never sounded better in this mixture of punk, metal, and rock that pulsates with immediacy and a strong call to action from their fan-base. The styles they have teased and tinkered with over their career come to full fruition on this record that finally realizes the band’s full potential.
Even from the first few riffs delivered on “Turning Away,” Sum 41 rock with a confident swagger found in scene mainstays such as Green Day, while still showcasing vulnerability and a human element behind their words. Deryck Whibley sings in the first powerful chorus, “I’m turning away/Because I feel like I can’t go on, while we’re living in this lie/And when all of my faith is gone, I don’t even want to try/There’s nothing that you could say, that could ever change my mind/And will all of these steps I take, it’s giving me back my life.” There’s a lot to unpack here, as we know Whibley nearly lost his battle to alcohol addiction and had a long road to recovery to fight for his life, much less his career as a touring musician in a successful band. Whibley sounds re-focused, refreshed, and doesn’t appear to want to let his new outlook on life go to waste any time soon.
Lyrically, this is a weird record for me. I never know in advance what I’m going to write about – it’s a case of getting those first couple of lines out, and then I get the gist of where I’m going with it. I have a very stream-of-consciousness way of doing things. With this album, though, I didn’t want to go down the path that my subconscious was leading me, and I tried to fight it. I was reluctant to make a sociopolitical album, but it’s really hard to ignore everything that’s going on in the world – you can’t not have an opinion on things. I was trying to stop myself from writing anything that sounded politically ‘of the times’, but every time I tried to change the lyrics it all stopped making sense.
I had the opportunity to interview a few people at Emo Nite Baltimore last Saturday.