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Simple Plan - Simple Plan

Simple Plan, Simple Plan

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CANADIAN quintet Simple Plan became firmly rooted in the emo bracket courtesy of their first two LPs and their eponymous return does very little to remove themselves from such associations.

The album is brash, loud, pulsating and contains some fairly decent songs. But it also struggles to overcome the generic sound of countless other American rock/emo outfits at times. It’s a shame because there’s plenty to admire when the album catches fire.

Simple Plan is notable for finding Pierre Bouvier and co teaming up with a diverse line-up of production talent, including Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Mudvayne), Danjahands (Timbaland, Justin Timberlake) and Max Martin (Avril Lavigne). It ensures that the LP does boast genuine crossover appeal whilst remaining careful not to piss up the die-hard fanbase that helped their first two albums to go platinum.

Evidence of the diversity is found within the first few seconds of former single and album opener When I’m Gone, which kicks off with a synth rush rather than the expected guitars. Come the “whoah, who” chorus, however, we’re in proper emo territory, albeit the kind that gives rise to easy sing-along tendencies and a guilty pleasure kind of arms in the air waving.

The band unleash the guitars proper on Take My Hand, a full speed ahead rocker that just about stays the right side of thrilling for this kind of thing, while The End once again reverts back to the processed beats and synth backdrop, not to mention a weirdly kitschy set of vocals that even flirt with glam tendencies.

It’s an odd mix in places and The End is an example of the LP at its least successful.

But Love Is A Lie is a genuine highlight – a slow-building, vitriol filled rant at an unfaithful ex-girlfriend that builds to a powerful chorus complete with incendiary lyrics (“you can look into my eyes and pretend all you want but I know you’re love is just a lie” and “do you think about me when he fucks you, could you be more obscene?”).

Save You, which follows immediately afterwards, is a somewhat sappy comedown that probably could have been placed better on the album, but there’s a Rocky Balboa style fanfare of horns surrounding the lively Generation, which is made to be played loud and which could well send live fans euphoric with glee.

The remainder of the album follows a similar blend of emo/pop tendencies that are clearly designed to appeal to past listeners and reach out to the Justin Timberlake crowd. Tracks to look out for include I Can Wait Forever, a piano-based power ballad that flirts seductively with Jet-style territory and remains just the right side of overly sentimental, and What If, which flirts with yet more ballad tendencies before unleashing the guitars for a heady finale.

Simple Plan won’t reinvent this Canadian outfit too radically and does pretty much what you’ve come to expect from them, but it’s a pretty decent listen that’s best described as a guilty pleasure. So go on, indulge yourself!

Download picks: When I’m Gone, Love Is A Lie, Generation, I Can Wait Forever

Track listing:

  1. When I’m Gone
  2. Take My Hand
  3. The End
  4. Love Is A Lie
  5. Save You
  6. Generation
  7. Time To Say Goodbye
  8. I Can Wait Forever
  9. Holding On
  10. No Love
  11. What If