Simple Plan aren’t just ‘Taking One For The Team’, they’re rightfully leading it.
A masterfully constructed balance between pop punk’s adoration for lament and celebration, the 17-year-old French Canadian icons Simple Plan use their fifth record to prove their genre-driving might, even though their one attempt to step out of line falls short of revolutionary.
The classic pop punk pessimism and indifference of opener ‘Opinion Overload’ spreads its unapologetic wings, leading smoothly into the dependent contrast of onomatopoeic ‘Boom!’ ‘Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching’ brings contagious toe-tapping love-struck optimism back to its rightful home. ‘Farewell’ is an album highlight in its own for how the electric driven melody can be truly dark at times, making a powerful, striking swansong worthy of their reputation.
The reflective simple groove of ‘Singing in the Rain’ is simply divine, with an infectious optimism and voluminous crowd-pleasing chants that pack a gigantic punch. Leading smoothly into the energetic lament to life without that special someone, ‘Everything Sucks’ packs a phenomenal solo suited to their magnetic live persona, while the steely determination of ‘I Refuse’ voices sublime anthemic qualities. Blink and you’ll miss R&B icon Nelly’s guest spot within the sassy ‘I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed’, while the contagious ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Sad’ steals the limelight.
‘Taking One For The Team’ consistently presents an ultimatum – do you still love or hate your ex? The pop punk drawl of ‘P.S. I Hate You’ ends the emotional dilemma, repeatedly exclaiming that spurned lovers should wish the worst on their ex. The solemn reflection amid ‘Problem Child’ attempts to brace the listener for the closing ode ‘I Dream About You’ which, when viewed singularly, falls out of step. It’s emotional, it’s heartfelt, but it’s set at such a glacial pace that it seems this would’ve worked much better at the midpoint as opposed to looking more like a closing cut-and-paste job.
Closing track aside, ‘Taking One For The Team’ is an abundant showcase of Simple Plan’s talent to demand the attention of your eyes, ears and hearts, no matter how hurt they may be.
’Taking One For The Team’ by Simple Plan is released on 19th February on Atlantic.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)