I'm not there yet with Sum 41, blink's younger Canadian counterpart and the four idiots responsible for "Fat Lip" and "In Too Deep," which--unless you're dead or listen to classical music--you've been unable to escape since the summer. On the surface, these guys seem as freely hedonistic as the blink boys, thirsting after sex and alcohol and all the rest, working for Island Def Jam to get a similar crack at Vivendi's considerable expense accounts. But then why all the bitching about the soul-sucking mainstream that clogs "Fat Lip"'s perfectly content-free guitar buzz? "I don't wanna waste my time/And become another casualty of society/I'll never fall in line/Become another victim of your conformity," they promise. Say what? I gave Tom Morello the benefit of the doubt when he told me Leonard Peltier didn't care that Rage Against the Machine rallied for his release via the Sony Corporation, but I'm not sure I can extend the same courtesy to some dudes who'd rather get a blow job in the backseat of a vintage El Camino. It's the posing that gets me, not the blow jobs or the El Camino or the pre-show cold cuts. Who the fuck let the dogs out?
But whatever. Sum's giddy All Killer No Filler's close to that, and Jerry Finn--who thanks to his work with blink, Green Day and, uh, Superdrag has sort of become the pop-punk Max Martin--hooked these dumb-asses up with some real sweet amps and made 'em nice and loud. At a time like this, that goes further than you'd think, and complaining about rich punk bands who don't care about changing anything other than their PINs sounds a whole lot like wasted breath. Or maybe that's just the whoosh of regret, disappearing into a vacuum.