Simple Plan – Simple Plan
Release Date: February 12, 2008
Record Label: Lava Records
Nearly three and a half years removed from their sophomore album, the platinum-certified Still Not Getting Any..., Simple Plan has returned from their sabbatical with a brand new self-titled CD. It's evident upon first listen that while they've opted for the glossy production of a major-label band, they still have the songwriting skills of cavemen. Unfortunately for our now-damaged ears, the overdone production doesn't distort the abominably dull lyrics enough to offer any comfort.
The social commentary (no, really) from Simple Plan begins with the opener and lead single, “When I'm Gone,” while introducing us to a main talking point about the new album. Frontman Pierre Bouvier's vocals, previously one step above nails on a chalkboard have lost most of its grating whine, and instead dropped him in the middle of every other average pop-rock singer with little to no range. Nonetheless, the band yearns for acceptance with a vast array of mid-tempo ballads and slow songs that will totally undershoot their target audience. Frankly, it doesn't even sound like they're trying half of the time. “The End” amounts to nothing more than a crappy b-side from The Higher's newest album; heavy on distortion, little on substance. As Bouvier begs and pleads for the subject of the song to stay and croons, “You know it's not the end,” the listener begins to wish it was.
However, the album hits new lows with the second single, “Your Love is a Lie.” The beginning of the song musically as well as Bouvier's delivery is vaguely reminiscent of Green Day's “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” but Simple Plan manage to launch it much further into the throes of mediocrity than you might imagine. The lyrics are downright laughable, with one verse lamenting, “You look so innocent, but the guilt in your voice gives you away/Yeah, you know what I mean/How does it feel when you kiss when you know that I trust you?/And do you think about me when he fucks you?/Could you be more obscene?” The band has become quite fond of the piano-founded ballad on this CD, with “Save You,” “I Can Wait Forever,” and “No Love” all fitting into this mostly-trite formula.
“Generation” one can assume is Simple Plan's halfhearted stab at an anthem for their, well...generation. It boasts a thick sound but nothing really stands out except for some very out-of-place hip-hop beats that are layered underneath the vocals, guitars, and drums. They're unobtrusive on the chorus, but in the verses, they stick out and leave you scratching your head. Let's just say this song would feel far more sincere with Avril Lavigne's former brat-pop stylings leading it into oblivion. There's one song that recalls memories of the band's former work, and it's “Time to Say Goodbye,” an unruly pop-punk track that would seem a far more apt single than either of the two songs previously chosen. We've heard it before, but it actually serves as a breath of fresh air on this terrifically stale album.
Regression is an ugly thing, especially for a band that relies heavily on a specific demographic. And let's face it—Simple Plan's new album is by far their worst effort, a clichéd cache of middling pop rock songs with little emotion and even less instrumental prowess. This CD revolves solely around Bouvier and the band's three producers, including Timbaland protégé Danja, who offers the misplaced beats in a handful of tracks. This album is simply so overproduced that it drains the charisma from an album that had little to begin with. Guitar riffs bleed into the overall soundscape, and the drums rarely stand out anywhere. Your foot might tap along, but as soon as you stop and take a true listen to Simple Plan, the cringing will begin. No thanks. I can deal with no pads and no helmets, but you might want to go with no parachute when you jump out of this doomed airplane.
I knew this album would stink a whole lot of butt, but it's good to have it torn apart and shown for what it is (i.e. crap) by someone with such literary (and auditory!) prowess as yourself, Tony. Ace review!