Simple Creatures
Strange Love


3.4
great

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
April 1st, 2019 | 44 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: it's only fun on the edge of oblivion

As a diehard +44, Untitled and 'fervently ignoring all blink-182's bad qualities' fan, I appreciate Strange Love's outsider status. It's the kind of throwaway, Hoppus-having-fun side project that would have been unthinkable ten or fifteen years ago (we can sing the praises of When Your Heart Stops Beating all you want, believe me, but Mark doesn't particularly sound like he's having fun on that album). Simple Creatures is a breezy and short project, but its concerns are surprisingly dark and its language is one of suspicion, paranoia and poor decision-making, mostly with regards to drugs. There were feints towards this kind of writing on "Los Angeles" and "No Future", and I'd even argue that the finale of "Strange Love" plays out like a darker sequel to "Bored to Death" and its dirty-minded bridge. But this is the first full-bore descent into Mark Hoppus' introspective side since +44, or that project's spiritual cousins "Fighting the Gravity" and "Heart's All Gone". Accordingly, Strange Love is overdramatic, self-serious and somehow even more overproduced than California, bringing to mind the Linkin Park who married heartfelt, moving lyrics and melodies to faceless Top 40 background noise on One More Light. By virtue of being much shorter and much catchier, Strange Love strikes a more natural balance between its words and its music.

This EP is best when Hoppus plays the cynical older rockstar reflecting on the darkest moments of his road to fame, while Gaskarth steps in as the wide-eyed optimist with some obscenely catchy choruses. Two-and-a-half-minute blast "Strange Love" exemplifies this best; lines like "she traces lines across my skin then leaves me dancing on the razor's edge" and "you're just a crater of yourself and she's the fallen angel underneath" play against a hook that should rightfully dominate the airwaves all summer. The aptly titled "Adrenaline" marks an easy highlight by injecting some energy into proceedings, seeing Hoppus and Gaskarth break with the formula, trading words like "you're no Marie Antoinette / so save it for the internet" - either the EP's best or worst depending on taste - back and forth over a muted, grimy guitar riff. And though "Drug" is even more slathered in overproduction and 'na-na-nas', it establishes the lyrical tone of the following songs so well that the EP could easily be called Drug, given the prominence of cautionary lyrics like "I ignored the warnings on a bottle full of pills and I stumbled off the rails for a summer". The non-single cuts are largely of a quieter ballad nature: "How to Live" suffers from a generic instrumental but allows Gaskarth the spotlight for a very strong vocal performance, "Ether" has a brooding, menacing beat that comes as a genuine surprise and "Lucy" reveals a little more bite to compensate for its cringey half-rapped pre-choruses. In under twenty minutes, Simple Creatures demonstrate a songwriting connection that feels more natural and earned than a lot of California – a byproduct of Gaskarth having come up in the scene playing blink-182 covers and the lessened label interference in a side project, no doubt – and bring out shades of each other that fans have been waiting to hear for some time. I'm ready to see what they can do if they really let loose.



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user ratings (48)
Chart.
2.1
poor

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


41788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

is this another thread where I get told I have a duty to review better music? Let's Find Out

Digging: The National - I Am Easy to Find

onionbubs
April 1st 2019


11415 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

terrific review wish i could find much to be enthusiastic about here :/



adrenaline is the closest thing to a highlight here. drug is horrendous

Digging: Alexisonfire - Watch Out!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


41788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

cheers bubs. Adrenaline and Strange Love are hard jams, and I like Drug's chorus atleast

TheWonderSoFar
April 1st 2019


3993 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Nice review. While listening to this, I was struggling to hear what anybody could possibly enjoy in this, so thank you for giving me counterpoints to ponder. For me, though, there’s just nothing here to enjoy. They refer to it as “Trash-Pop” on their Spotify and I couldn’t agree more. Also, maybe it’s just me, but Mark sounds AWFUL across this entire project. His voice just doesn’t work with this type of music at all imo. Really tempted to 1 this but that seemed a tad to harsh. Maybe I’ll revisit this eventually and adjust accordingly, as at least it’s a quick listen.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
April 1st 2019


25251 Comments


i'll probably the only other person to dig this too

nice review!

Digging: Darkest Hour - Deliver Us

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


15304 Comments


nice review row, though I can guarantee I'll hate this.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 1st 2019


30688 Comments


cover art looks like every 2.5/5 indie-pop album ever made
I'll still check this prob lol

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Igor

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


41788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

@Spirit had a feeling you might agree with me ngl, @Sowing as a OML defender I can at least see you finding something to like in this



@Wonder I thought Mark sounded great on this, though they've obviously studio'd his voice up to shit, but he works really well when he's contrasted with Alex's voice and you can really hear the differences in their styles (as opposed to Mark and Matt sounding exactly the fucking same on California). but yeah the trash-pop genre does seem to pretty much fit the bill

onionbubs
April 1st 2019


11415 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

tbh all the moments i liked on here came courtesy of alex marks parts are mostly lackluster on here. which i guess makes this the best thing alex has done since 2009 ish but also my least fav mark material ever rip

WeepinnWillow
April 1st 2019


608 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

drug was ok, need to jam the whole thing tbh

Digging: Daniel Seven - Resonate

Papa Universe
April 1st 2019


21005 Comments


I don't believe you.

Digging: Rammstein - Rammstein

Observer
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


6819 Comments


nice read. A part of me was hoping for another +44 when tom split off from blink again, but by then im sure mark and travis had had enough

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With the Arab Strap

nolerthebowler
April 1st 2019


3582 Comments


lmao

Spec
April 1st 2019


35678 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Is this good guys?

onionbubs
April 1st 2019


11415 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

i just want to hear whatever was finished from the second +44 album the very few studio clips sounded dope

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2019


41788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

A part of me was hoping for another +44 when tom split off from blink again, but by then im sure mark and travis had had enough




feel this hard, although I do consider Heart's All Gone and Dogs Eating Dogs at least concessions to that sound before he moved away from it fully, and great songs



Is this good guys?




no

onionbubs
April 1st 2019


11415 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

a more +44 sounding album out of blink right now would be a dream come true, especially with post ittc skiba

Spec
April 1st 2019


35678 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Oh this is straight pop. Thought it was gonna be punky.

Spec
April 1st 2019


35678 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah basically just wanted more +44 type stuff.

JayEnder
April 1st 2019


3813 Comments


Why does this exist

Digging: Full of Hell - Weeping Choir



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