“Do you ever feel like breaking down? / Do you ever feel out of place? / Like somehow you just don’t belong? / And no-one understands you?” That’s right, folks. Simple Plan are back. The band that wrote the anthem of your misunderstood teenage years have returned to the music scene with their fifth full-length, ‘Taking One For The Team’. Being long established in the industry has gained Simple Plan some fairly well known friends who feature on this record, although that in itself may not be enough to make this release a great one.
Opening the record is second single, ‘Opinion Overload’, with a somewhat familiar upbeat pop-punk sound that the boys are known for. That said, the band are keen to try new things, like taking a fair more laid back approach on summery, reggae number ‘Singing In The Rain’, complete with R City providing some rap vocals. ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Bed’ is a funk track the band have taken a run at featuring RnB star Nelly, which adds another string to this record’s bow.
Not all deviations from the band’s pop-punk roots are successful, as later ballad ‘Problem Child’ proves, sounding dreary and dull rather than emotionally poignant. Similarly, ‘Perfectly Perfect’ feels awkward due to a lack of lyrical creativity; describing someone as “rad” in a heartfelt ballad somewhat trivialises it. This is an issue across the record as demonstrated by ‘PS I Hate You’ and ‘Everything Sucks’ that come across as juvenile, which is nothing but disappointing from a band that have been in existence for over 15 years.
Closer ‘I Dream About You’ features some great harmonising between frontman Pierre Bouvier and Juliet Simms (formerly of Automatic Loveletter), but ends the record on a downbeat note.
Simple Plan seem at their best when they stick to the fast paced pop-punk that they’ve done best over the years, as they clearly show on ‘Nostalgia’. Unfortunately, not much else on this record stands out in a positive light. It’s not that ‘Taking One For The Team’ is a bad record, it just doesn’t stand out as a success story from a veteran band like Simple Plan.
Written by Jon Barlow (@Narlow1)