Once upon a time, Canadian pop-punk band Simple Plan were “kind of a big deal.” That said, those days of Pierre Bouvier and company being “hot stuff” have waned, sad as that may be. But punks grow old and musical tastes change, so it’s not surprising that a new Simple Plan album is no longer epic. Still, the collective’s first new album in five years, Taking One For The Team, is a welcome, enjoyable effort. Sure it probably won’t sell, but Simple Plan definitely “does their thing” on Taking One For The Team.
“Opinion Overload” sounds as if Simple Plan haven’t missed a beat – not since the quietly issued Get Your Heart On! but since the glory days. Need to know the best, most energetic way to kick off an album? “Opinion Overload” is it. “Boom” doesn’t lose any momentum, but it doesn’t best “Opinion Overload” either.
“Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching” on the other hand ranks among the most intriguing moments of Taking One For The Team. Again it takes you back as Bouvier emphatically belts, “I don’t care what people might think / I got your name in permanent ink / ‘cause baby this ship ain’t never gonna sink!” Simple Plan get two assist on “Farewell” and “Singing In The Rain” from Jordan Pundik and R. City respectively. “Farewell” is unapologetic pop-punk at it punkiest (is that even a word) while “Singing In the Rain” incorporates a dash of tropical flavor.
“Farewell” and “Singing In the Rain” flow well, but “Everything Sucks” is the “cat’s meow.” It’s the “one” of a “one-two punch” including “I Refuse” which is sure to have you feel like a rebellious teenager with your fist in the air belting the anthemtic, quick-paced chorus. Follow that grandness up with a Nelly feature, “I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed.” Yep – it’s just TOO much fun over the course of three tracks.
“Nostalgic” fits right into the bright, sunny vibe of Taking One For The Team, keeping the tempo “up.” “Perfectly Perfect” on the other hand contrasts, slackening the pace and opting for more serious fare. While it’s hard to take Simple Plan too seriously, even as their past their youthful prime, the song is effective. The second coming? – No, but effective.
“I Don’t Wanna Be Sad” is more captivating, thanks to its quicker pace and soulful production cues. Face it, Simple Plan are best when the energy is at a fever pitch. “P.S. I Hate You” is the perfect follow-up in the spirit of pop-punk! Penultimate cut “Problem Child” once more slows things down, taking an air of seriousness as Bouvier touchingly sings, “I don’t know why / always found a way to make you cry / I never meant to be your problem child / your problem child.” “I Dream About You” closes on the slower side of things, but the results are successful as it’s a beautiful, surprising duet with Juliet Simms.
Ultimately, Taking One For The Team is a well-rounded album that should appeal to Simple Plan fans and newcomers who take the time to listen. Is this an album likely to make Simple Plan “hot” again? No. But to reiterate for the umpteenth time, this is a solid, enjoyable listen through and through.
Favorites: “Opinion Overload,”“Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching,”“Everything Sucks,”“I Refuse,” “I Don’t Wanna Be Sad” and “I Dream About You”
Simple Plan • Taking One For The Team • Atlantic • Release Date: 2.19.16