As political times take a tumultuous turn, punk rises as an opposing force in the ensuing storm. With their previous album released just before the 2016 election, Sum 41 used the time since to focus on the divisions today between the people versus the President. Having eighteen years of seasoned experience since their first album, the punk rock band delivers a succinct 10-song album of killer tracks without any filler. After years of touring and partying, hospitalization and recovery, as well as band members leaving and returning, Sum 41 delivers youthful vigor along with mature riffs for the political problems of today.
As a punk album, it would be remiss without mentioning the current sentiments towards the President. Rather than call him by name, Order in Decline rallies against the liar in office and spells it out with the song “45 (A Matter of Time)”. The list of grievances is so large and the bill continues to build, that to list any particular outrage against the administration would be drowned out and forgotten in a sea of scandals sure to arise in a matter of days. The album is directed at the 45th President and Sum 41 historians will note this when discussing the climate that Order in Decline was fostered in. Trump’s name can be such a turn off that by keeping his name out of the lyrics, it helps future proof the album for other rebellious listeners sure to pick up Sum 41’s discography at a later date while still addressing the problems of today’s political divisions. Order in Decline deals heavily with the existential threat their fans are facing by diminishing the President to only a number and a matter of time before his lies are bound to catch up to him.
Bookending the album are two non-political songs about choosing life and love. Opening the album, “Turning Away” addresses the life of sobriety for Deryck Whibley after doctors induced a coma so his body could handle the ensuing alcohol withdrawal. The opening track of their latest album addresses his new outlook with the lyrics, “And with all of these steps I take/ It’s giving me back my life.” Fueled by the success of the band, Sum 41 could party as much as they wanted and were then celebrated for the debauchery. Now 39 years old, Deryck had to find a new source of inspiration before the internal storm raging inside would literally kill him. “Turning Away” addresses the past without looking back as he appreciates the clarity of his new life.
Taking inspiration from his wife, who while they were dating rushed him to the hospital after his collapse, the last track of the album is a love song about the resulting emptiness should anything happen to her. Combining the loss of friends and public figures to suicide, “Catching Fire” is a love letter belted to those no longer here. Welling together loss, beauty, and anger, he sings, “And the days just go by/ Like the moment seems to last/ Like catching fire/ All is gone, and it all went up so fast.” The song examines love under the lens of the worst-case scenario when it is too late to see them again. It is about respecting the beautiful now and not taking anyone for granted since the future is so uncertain.
Containing nine up-tempo rock songs and one slower ballad for “Never There”, Sum 41 delivers an impressive seventh studio outing. Great for a day at the skate park or on the slopes, Order in Decline rallies against those in power while noting that our family and friends deserve more of our attention than the temporary administration whose lies are bound to catch up to them as a younger generation rises to power.