So, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts about an album that I’ve been waiting for since 2013. Simple Plan just released their fifth album, Taking One For the Team and I can tell you that my initial thoughts were that overall it’s a great album. Some of the tracks (read Everything Sucks) are a little weaker than I expected. The ballads are really strong and I love the collabs. (I Dream About You is so so so different but beautiful and Problem Child made me cry.)
Pierre’s vocals are showcased so well on this album, though.
And that was after the first listen through. Now that I’ve listened subsequent times I think I’m now ready to do a track by track review of the album. (More an opinion piece than a proper review…but hey, that’s how I roll.)
The opening track Opinion Overload is a great way to begin an album that has been so long in coming. It is classic SP, pop punk, catchy with lyrics that call out those who are opinionated and like to bring us down. It also has, I feel, a personal message pertaining to the band and their critics (including the fans who get upset about the different things that the band try; read: Saturday.). I love this track, it reminds me of Still Not Getting Any.
Boom! What to say about this track? It’s been a while since the very first time I heard this song, but I can honestly say that I have a soft spot for this one. The band first revealed this track live at a Simple Plan Foundation event, an acoustic version in 2014, and I loved it from the get go.
The third track on the album Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching is a punchy, pop song that professes love and PDAs. There isn’t much else to say about it, though, except I love the call and answer in the bridge of Jeff’s guitars and Pierre’s vocals.
Farewell is a track that I had to listen to a couple of times (including when they released it during the release week before the album was released) before getting into. This is the first track on the album that features a vocal collaboration. Jordan Pundik of New Found Glory lends his voice to the track and it works really well. I don’t really know NFG that well, but the bands’ genres are very similar so the collab works. The song itself sounds lyrically like it could be about a bad romantic relationship but the band hinted that it could have a deeper meaning pertaining to the band itself. I personally think it reminds me of Friend by Reset (which was referencing Pierre and Chuck’s falling out in their earlier band).
Singin’ in the Rain didn’t sit right with me the very first time I played it. It’s so different to anything the guys have done before and R City’s parts jarred as well. But something clicked the subsequent plays. It’s got a groove to it that I just want to bob my head along to. And the lyrics are relatable, talking of life and how even if things aren’t going the way we want we can choose to just sing.
I love these lyrics: I’ve got a song in my heart and I’m bulletproof/There’s nothing in the world that’s gonna kill this mood/No matter what life wants to throw my way/I’ll be singing, I’ll be singing in the rain!
Apparently the band will be filming a music video for this song this weekend, can’t wait to see what that will look like.
The band teased the next track early on in the studio process. Everything Sucks is a track that is slowly beginning to grow on me. It’s the weakest track on the album, but I still really like it. I think it’s just a very safe song with rhyming lines and a formulaic lay out (you could say the same of plenty of other songs on the album, though). It does showcase Pierre’s vocals well and the gang vocals at the end are catchy. To be honest, knowing me, I’ll probably absolutely love this song after even more listens, but I think after hearing the tease of the chorus I was expecting a stronger song. But, there it is.
WOAH-OH I Refuse to accept criticism of this band by haters… This whole song is a big fuck you to the detractors in life who want to tear us down with their words. It’s a choice that we can make to not allow them to make a difference in our lives. This should be everyone’s anthem. I Refuse, the anthem of every bullied person in the world. Boom! (This is a hard hitting pop punk track that I definitely want to hear live.)
Simple Plan’s collaborations with hip-hop artists have become a staple now, and so I have high expectations when it comes to these tracks. I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed feat Nelly didn’t disappoint. This track was released last year as the official lead single for the album. The band filmed a Baywatch themed video for the track, which even has the Hoff himself cameoing in it. If any song on the album is going to be labelled pop, it would have to be this one. Pop and RnB to be honest. Nelly’s contribution fits perfectly with the track, though on the single release he has a line right at the beginning that is cut from the album version. Probably as it didn’t flow from the end of I Refuse. All in all a track that I actually really love.
If you haven’t been living under a rock you’d know that Simple Plan is pop punk at their roots and this track, Nostalgic, reminds me of all the pop punk bands that were around when I first became a fan of the band. It sounds like a mix of Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Lee Harding (Wasabi era) and even Bowling For Soup. Nostalgia eat your heart out, right? It throwbacks to the early noughties, but at the same time sounds fresh and new. Chuck’s drumming in this track is on point.
Perfectly Perfect. Apart from the corny title, I have no complaints about this track. This song is very relatable especially as I’m married to a man who basically says this about me…that I’m beautiful, sexy etc and I really don’t see that… Maybe this song will change that.
Horns and Simple Plan? I never thought that possible, but I Don’t Wanna Be Sad (which was first released when I was on my honeymoon last September) brought a completely different feel to a Simple Plan song. The band is well known for their heavy (theme wise) songs being catchy and poppy and fun. This offering was no different, except that it is very different. I loved it from the first listen, especially as I’d been feeling a bit down at the time.
P.S. I Hate You. I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone…so my thoughts on this song are purely about the music itself. This song is another quintessential Simple Plan track, in its barest form. Enough said.
I don’t cry when listening to Simple Plan songs. Not ever. Not until now. Problem Child broke something inside of me. I don’t even know what it is really. Is it the heartfelt lyrics? Is it the actual chords and melody of the chorus? Is it the piano in the instrumental and Jeff’s solo? Or is it the fact that even though I love my parents and they brought me up well, and I’ve reached a place where I know they’re proud of my achievements, there are moments where I felt I disappointed them and could’ve done a lot better? Whatever it is, the song has made me emotional every listen. Every single time. (Oh, and the key change in this song was well done.)
The final track on the album, I Dream About You, is nothing like any other song the band has ever written. From the opening notes, and Pierre’s vocals to Juliet Simms sultry tones, to the strings this song has a dreamlike quality that may not appeal to everyone but has captured my heart. This song is pure art, no mistake and I love that the band were brave enough to put this on the album, as the final song no less. It really rounds out the album and leaves a lasting impression long after the final note has ended.
Bear in mind that these are just my opinions, you may disagree with me and that’s fine, but to sum up what I’ve said here, this album is full of diverse songs that bring a fresh new sound to the music landscape. However, at the same time remind us of where Simple Plan have come from, the pop punk arena of the late 90s/early noughties, and they haven’t forgotten that either.
I’d hazard to say this so early on, but I believe this is the best album Simple Plan has released and that’s saying something since I’ve always placed SNGA on that pedestal.
I give this album 9/10 – for diversity and reminding us of their roots
Best tracks: I Dream About You, Opinion Overload, Problem Child, Boom!, Singing in the Rain
Weakest track: Everything Sucks