Punk-pop Canadian band Simple Plan is officially back with last week’s release of “Taking One for the Team,” its first full-length album since 2011’s “Get Your Heart On.”
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For a band who has been around for nearly 20 years, the odds were against Simple Plan putting out a record that would please its usual audience, as well as attract a new crowd. However, the former heartthrob teenage punk rockers pulled it off with this album.
The record kicks off with what is certainly a nostalgic and welcome sound for many first wave Simple Plan fans in the song “Opinion Overload.” The track has distorted, melodic guitar parts for the intro, palm muting during the chorus, catchy lyrics and a well crafted hook for the chorus. It sounds like a song that would have been on the band’s 2002 album “No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls.”
That is an impressive feat, but Simple Plan also shows the growth it has made since then with the mature lyrics of “Opinion Overload”: “Quit bringing me down…Hey!/ I’m doing things exactly like I want to/ What part of that don’t you understand?” The insecurities that pestered and fueled the band’s early success has seemingly gone with the wind, and it is an interesting change in lyrical content.
Simple Plan shows its growth on this album by incorporating modern popular music elements. Although the album still features the essential instruments of rock and roll in every song (guitar, drums, bass), some songs are not heavily mixed with guitar, and hip hop star Nelly is featured on a track.
The song “I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed” has an R&B vibe from the beginning, with a heavy, bumping bass line and a danceable drum beat. The vocals are catchy, and the melody has a slightly chilling, haunting vibe. Nelly comes in for a verse and contributes his vocal style to the song, and then the infectious chorus states, “I don’t wanna go to bed without you.”
“Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching” is another Simple Plan song that features pop elements, but intertwines them with pop-punk staples. The bass line opens up the song and remains prominent throughout, as lead singer Pierre Bouvier lays down upbeat, infectious vocals and goes into a chorus that is reminiscent of 2000s pop-punk band Good Charlotte. It is a new song that creates nostalgia of the old pop-punk scene, and the repetitive hook drives the sentiment home.
“Singin’ In The Rain” is the best pop song on the album. It has a happy, carefree vibe and notorious catchy vocals. It features R. City, who adds a little reggae to this already upbeat song.
“Farewell” is one of the heavier songs on the album, and it reminds me of the band’s older stuff. It is hard to avoid singing along as Bouvier sings his goodbyes to a lover; “Farewell/ I didn’t mean to let you down.”
“Perfectly Perfect” is a heartfelt, clever and touching ballad written for a girl who is second guessing herself. The sentiment of this song is best described by the lyrics, “It’s hard to think that a girl like you/ Could have any insecurities/ It’s funny how all the things you would change/ Are things that are cute to me.”
“Everything Sucks” and “Boom” are other songs on the 14-track album that impressed me. The only song I did not enjoy was “I Refuse” because it does not contribute anything new or distinct to the album.
To see a band remain at a high level this far into its career is rare, but Simple Plan proves again on this record that it still has it. I recommend “Taking One For The Team” for old fans and for those hearing about Simple Plan for the first time.