“There’s nothing in the world that’s gonna kill this mood” chirps Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier on Singing In The Rain, the fifth track on their new record Taking One For The Team, and it’s hard to think of a truer statement about the Canadians’ career. They’ve been going nearly twenty years now, and all five of the guys are approaching or past their mid-thirties. But they can always be relied on to make a ridiculously cheery album, and of course this one is no exception.
Taking One For The Team is chock-full of typical, Simple Plan-branded pop rock, as expected. Lead single Boom is up there with the best tracks they’ve ever written with its gigantic chorus and general irresistibility. And Farewell (which features New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik) ascends well above the standard already set by their existing discography. Sugary sweet with a hint of a bite along with a hook that you’ll need to physically prise out of your brain in order to be rid of it, it’s an early contender for Pop Punk Song of the Year.
The material here is consistently strong for fans of Simple Plan and anyone looking for a throwback to that happy-go-lucky pop rock from the early noughties. But for anyone not fitting into those two categories, Taking One For The Team is definitely not for you. If you can get over the fact that there are songs on this record called I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed and Everything Sucks that have been made by five men who have wives and children, then the simplicity of everything here will deliver that final blow to you. The three ballads on here are just lame (to use Simple Plan-esque vernacular) and fail to become the next Perfect or Astronaut, and the likes of Nostalgic just seem washed out as they’ve written songs just like it for five records.
All this does seem harsh considering most of this record is absolutely brilliant, and the first half especially is made up of complete bangers. There are a few curveballs too, like the aforementioned ska-tinged Singing In The Rain, during which it’s physically impossible to keep a smile off your face. The genius I Don’t Wanna Be Sad, a raucous number embellished by brass is perhaps the chirpiest lyrical approach to clinical depression, well, ever, while the funk-driven I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed is a perfect clap-along anthem (you can rap along to Nelly’s surprisingly valuable contribution too, if you really want to). There are a few instances where Simple Plan show their more confrontational side, with Pierre Bouvier openly calling out haters on Opinion Overload and I Refuse and certainly not mincing his words about a girl named Sophia on P.S I Hate You. All this while keeping an undeniably Simple Plan vein firmly attached to every song on the record keeps it varied yet familiar, which is hard to pull off.
The fact that Simple Plan are properly grown up men and still singing about immature problems is a turn-off on the face of it. But listen to the first couple of tracks on Taking One For The Team and it’s easy to realise how this band is just a harmless outlet for five guys who don’t want to grow up. It helps that there are huge hits on here too, leaving the totally forgettable ballads out of the equation. But in all seriousness, not many bands out there can do what Simple Plan do anywhere near as well as they do, and that’s leaving a smile on your face with the cheesiest pop rock ever while leaving the ‘guilty pleasure’ label at the door. For the most part, anyway.
For fans of: All Time Low, New Found Glory, Bowling For Soup
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Taking One For The Team’ by Simple Plan is out now on Atlantic Records.