Review of Simple Plan

Rating: A+

[Cover of Simple Plan's third studio self-titled album.]

I’ve often been criticized for liking Simple Plan’s music, perhaps even rightly so. Why not? Their fan base is largely comprised of female teenagers; they sing songs with titles such as “The Worst Day Ever”, “Me Against the World”, and “No Love”; they’re a mainstream band; and they get heavy airplay on MTV. Simple Plan’s third studio self-titled album, Simple Plan, is no different; it’s the plan I love.

Or maybe it’s not. “It’s something totally different that we’re trying out. You know we figured this is our third album now and we needed to try stuff, just for ourselves. To keep it fresh and fun,” lead singer Pierre Bouvier explains. “Honestly I don’t really know how it is going to turn out but I have a really good feeling.”

The album’s opening song, “When I’m Gone” exemplifies this change in direction; an R’n’B-ish synthesizer loop begins the song, and a hip-hop beat follows the band through the song’s verses. The essence of Simple Plan is still there—its big choruses, catchy melodies, and powerful beat remain, but it’s different, and very noticeably so.

And this change doesn’t exclusively lie within producer Danja Hill’s R’n’B contributions either; there is something more. No longer are the band members merely expressing their discomfort with the world, they are now filled with genuine hope. For example, in its first verse, Bouvier boldly sings, “It’s like we’re going through the motions, of a scripted destiny / Tell me where’s our inspiration / If life won’t wait, I guess it’s up to me.” In other words, they are maturing.

There are throwbacks to their previous works though. “Take My Hand”, for instance, could have fit easily on the band’s second studio album Still Not Getting Any…. And “Time to Say Goodbye” reminds the listener of the fun, bratty pop-punk of their first effort No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls. Both are excellent tracks, and they both reaffirm the band’s wide range of writing styles.

At this point in the review, I fear listing any further standout tracks, because they are all great. (Seriously, this album has very few blemishes, and is quite possibly the best album this year.) I will, however, note the closing track “What If”.

As a friend of mine, Gary, once told me, closing tracks are tracks that a band really puts everything they’ve got into. “What If” is a perfect example of this. A string orchestra opens the song, then followed by Bouvier’s mystically layered vocals, before the band kicks into full modern-rock force. I say this sincerely: You must listen to the track to get a feel for how awesome this song really is.

But back to my point, if indeed I had one. I don’t think I should be criticized for my liking of Simple Plan’s music. Beyond the fact that everyone has different tastes, the music, I believe, is universally good. What surrounds a band does not dictate the quality of its music. Indeed, it is the music that makes a band’s music good.

As just another know-nothing reviewer, I cannot force, nor can I rationally expect anyone to be affected by my opinion of this work. All I can write is that I highly recommend it. That said, I urge you to ignore the “easy guitar parts” and the band’s “image”, and to legitimately give the music a chance. You might like it.

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