Sum 41 Chuck

OK, I admit it. I am one of those old school punk fans who has a soft spot for this mall-punk success story. I always have and Chuck, the Ajax, ON quartet’s fourth disc does nothing to convince me I should be ashamed of it. Quite the opposite. Maturing as any band that starts out as teenagers is prone to do, the Sums do a spectacular job of dulling their pop-punk pretensions in favour of their love of ’80s thrash and metal — less Green Day, more Manowar. Musically the band has never sounded more determined or cohesive (the notable exceptions being the Oasis sound-alike "Some Say” and the power mellower "Slipping Away and Pieces”). Lyrically the album also advances the case for these guys as strong songwriters. I suppose almost getting killed while trying to do good deeds in foreign lands will do that. (The album actually takes its name from Chuck Pelletier, the UN aid worker who helped them escape near-massacre in the Congo.) I continue to feel no need to make apologies for thinking Sum 41 is so much more and so much better than their Much Music-friendly poster boy origins suggest. And after a few spins of Chuck, neither will you. (Aquarius)