Simple Plan is the most annoying band in the pop-punk genre. Wait, let's just make that most annoying band in the world. When I began to formulate what I wanted to say about the album before I went through my customary pre-review listens, I hadn't planned to hate the album. In fact, remembering a few of their singles off the top of my head, I thought it might be redeemably catchy and, frankly, not a complete waste of time. However, I had to completely scrap my pre-write and start over after re-listening to this album. Still Not Getting Any
One thing going for Simple plan is they don't pretend to be something they are obviously not. Guitarists Sebastian Lefebvre and Jeff Stinco play to their strengths, which is essentially the same thing over and over and over and over. Faux-aggressive? Yes. Ear-catching? Possibly. Interesting in any way? No. "But this is pop-punk, right? It's ok as long as they make some catchy riffs and lead lines, right?" Oh, poor Johnny asked me that question. I punched him in the teeth and then explained that it's all so bland and clichÃ© that not even I can get into it. When your guitarists aren't even close to the front of the pack for the "new" wave of pop punk artists, it's quite a shame. Considering bassist David Defrosters is inaudible for much of the album or playing the most simply-planned (I'm witty) bass lines and drummer Chuck Comeau is playing metronome, there is nothing musically outstanding about Simple plan.
Well, fair enough. I can get over that: I enjoy older Yellowcard, Blink 182, and Green Day, and there's nothing exciting about their compositions. I'm sure when we look at what's going on vocally, it'll just be infectious. Pierre Bouvier is a rather angsty looking young man; what, with that hair and piercings, he makes me want to be a hoodlum just like him. However, his voice is just whiny. It isn't a bad voice; in fact it can be somewhat enjoyable at times; he just hits certain notes that make me want to shatter glass. For example, on Thank You
, the line "Thank you for showing me that best friends cannot be trusted
" not only implodes in on itself by its end (in a common occurrence, Bouvier forces out the last few words, and unlike more pressing vocalists, it merely sounds uncomfortable and out of place) but also conveys what seems to be a ball-twisting feeling of oppression. It's generally annoying, and while at times he does take perfect advantage of his weaknesses (well, its really only on Untitled
), it makes for an almost paradoxical situation: is the cringe worthy vocals or the abysmal wannabe emotional punk lyrics the most embarrassing part of the album?
Normally, I wouldn't take a whole paragraph to talk about this, but Simple Plan's lyrics are just so bad, it has to be stated in full. It's almost impossible to take them seriously when on songs such as Shut Up
, the chorus states "So shut up, shut up, shut up/Don't wanna hear it/Get out, get out, get out Get out of my way/Step up, step up, step up/You'll never stop me/Nothing you say today/Is gonna bring me down
" In general, the album is filled with Linkin Park-style teen angst lyrics, and whilst I'm sure preteens find plenty to relate to in songs repeating over in over how "much my life sucks" or "my dad doesn't understand me", anyone who has taken a higher-level math course will find these to be complete garbage: they aren't even on par with a band like Good Charlotte, for a comparison.
However, this album isn't without it's one shining moment. Previously mentioned, the song Untitled
it a rather touching ballad. With a nice piano accompaniment, the song starts off with a string section and while it may still be whiny, Bouvier's vocals actually work here. While at times he's closer to the realm of talking loudly than actually singing, it's still far more interesting than anything else on the album. With lyrics that seem to be more thought out and deep than the rest of the album (it may be due to my take that the song is about some sort of personal death, but Simple plan doesn't deserve my research), I honestly can say I like the song.
I can't say the same for the album. It's more of this mainstream "emo" as the kids call it (I prefer faux-emo in this context), and it's not even average for that. It's certainly catchy-how could it not be at this point?-but it also has almost no other merits to it. Those looking for a technicality-don't get this album. Those looking for a good singer-don't get this album. Those looking for introspective lyrics-don't get this. Those looking for moderately catchy, whiny, and accessible music-get about 10 other artists' discographies before you pick this up. Sans Untitled
, this album is just the same song on repeat. And that song is I'd Do Anything
from their previous. Please, unless you're really desperate for mediocre radio pop-punk, don't buy this album.