Canadian pop-punkers Simple Plan like to do this thing where they make their fans wait forever for new music to come out. You’ll hear news about them collaborating with someone or them announcing a tour overseas, but when new music is announced it’s ‘trending’ worthy on every social media outlet. When promo single “Saturday” was released, it pretty much re-awakened the souls of Simple Plan fans everywhere and so began the unveiling of everything the band was working on for their fifth album Taking One For The Team.
While “Saturday” unfortunately didn’t make it on to the album, a slew of eclectic singles were put out between “Saturday” and the album’s mid-February release. Lead promo track “Boom” could easily be classified as an ordinary love song, but it can also be written from the mindset of a long-time fan who continues to go back to them when the time calls for it. As in, it plays into that undeniable connection that people can have with their favorite band or artist’s music that no one besides the individual can fully understand. “Boom” was followed by “I Don’t Wanna Be Sad” (AKA the happiest sad song ever released) followed by the retro funk-styled official lead single “I Don’t Wanna Go To Bed” featuring Nelly.
It was a little hard to tell what kind of direction Taking One For The Team was going in since “Boom” had the most recognizable musical style out of the other singles and could’ve easily had found a home on Simple Plan’s previous album Get Your Heart On! That is, until they released “Opinion Overload” and reassured longtime fans that there was indeed a chance of hearing some old school angsty SP sounds that we all know and love from their first 2 albums.
They took us back to their roots with the power anthem “I Refuse,” the snarky and upbeat “P.S. I Hate You,” and ‘moving-on-from-your-breakup’ track “Farewell” featuring Jordan Pundik of New Found Glory – all of which could’ve been continuation tracks for their popular second album Still Not Getting Any… Ironically, the pure pop-punk infused “Nostalgic” is the song that most closely matches the musicality of their debut album No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls, with somber ballad “Problem Child” easily seen as a lyrical continuation of NPNHJB‘s ‘my-parents-don’t-understand-me’ ode “Perfect.” The record ends with a duet with Juliett Simms, “I Dream About You”, that has a soaring orchestral/R&B vibe that the band dipped their feet into in their self titled release.
Taking One For The Team does have some clear musical elements similar to the album before it without it being the same exact album. Exuberantly upbeat love song “Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching” can totally be a continuation of “Can’t Keep My Hands Off You (feat. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer) while chill, island themed”Singing In The Rain (feat. R.City) is pretty much the “Summer Paradise” of TOFTT. They do, however, give listeners some of the freakin’ happiest sounding sad songs ever released in pop-punk with “Everything Sucks” and “I Don’t Wanne Be Sad,” and they pull off this musical mind warp with (dare I say it?) perfection. Luckily, they ingeniously placed the former earlier in the album, which is a clear ‘I’m-not-over-my-breakup’ track, in order to lead into the latter, a very straightforward ‘life’s-too-short-to-be-sad-all-the-time’ anthem.
Simple Plan’s long (and I mean LONG) awaited fifth album created a musical timehop that not only included noticeable elements from their previous albums, but also reminded their listeners that artists do have to play around with new things in their music to keep it fresh. Taking One For The Team is a audible collection of the best parts of their past work that they execute very well, mixed with genre alterations that actually fuse with their already established musical credibility. It’s a representation of their growth on a musical aspect but also their growth in their own personal lives. Just like us normal people have to grow up, so do our favorite musicians. Simple Plan did that in the most natural way possible without completely losing themselves in their music.
Pop Punk | Atlantic Records