All Killer No Filler, the debut album from Canadian pop-punkers Sum 41, is 20 years old today.
Opening with an eerie vocal piece, “Introduction to Destruction” adds more strength to the first musical track, “Nothing On My Back,” which begins with a rocking riff before asking “Was happiness a fad?” This is followed by the 50-second, hardcore blast of “Never Wake Up,” which wouldn’t be out of place on the Movielife’s This Time Next Year.
This, in turn, is followed by the album’s lead single “Fat Lip”–which needs no introduction. Even with the humorous, rap-rock verses, the song holds up well with a chorus that can’t fail to drag you into singing along. The song also remains emblematic of snotty rebellion: “I’m sick of being told to wait my turn.”
“Rhythms,” which kicks off with a swift drum fill, is a brilliant pop-punk anthem, not least because of its catchiness. The seventh track is another huge hit, “In Too Deep,” the video for which, if you haven’t seen it, you really should.
Before that, though, is an indisputable highlight: “Motivation.” Whilst there’s no mention of “smoking my inspiration” as Billie Joe Armstrong does in Green Day’s “Longview,” here that feeling is something that’s “getting hard to fake,” in a song very much in the guise of the aforementioned Green Day track. In fact, it’s also decidedly Less Than Jake in that sense, and a case could be even made that at least one couplet foreshadows those in LTJ’s “She’s Gonna Break Soon.” Elsewhere, “Nothing’s new / Everything’s the same” and, quite simply, “Motivation [is] such an aggravation.”
A re-recording of “Summer,” which originally appeared on their EP, Half Hour of Power, offers another singalong, complete with whoas, whilst “Handle This” slows things into that hooky, contemplative pace familiar of the 2000s rock. Ironically, with a refrain like “I will bring you down,” the song is a bit too sluggish.
“Crazy Amanda Bunkface” returns to the catchy, pop-punk model but could do with being stronger, given what preceded it. It’s a similar story with “All She’s Got,” even if it is reminiscent of Blink-182’s Enema of the State. “Heart Attack” brings back the bounce with a quiet-verse-loud-chorus formula and stands out from the trio behind it.
The band tell us in “Fat Lip” that “[Iron] Maiden and [Judas] Priest were the gods that we praised” and, as such, the album ends with “Pain for Pleasure,” a short burst of metal clocking in at under two minutes. It’s an entertaining finale which feels quite at home with the rest.
If you haven’t heard Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler–which went platinum in the U.K., U.S., and Canada–it’s certainly worth a listen. If you haven’t listened to it for over a decade, and can’t decide whether or not you should, stop wasting time and stick it on. It’s good fun that made for good memories.