Director: Mark Staubach
Cinematography: Chady Awad
Any music fan during the early 2000’s remembers the days of pop punk and “emo” music; who could forget legendary bands such as My Chemical Romance or Fall Out Boy, bands who narrated the teenage lives of many of today’s 20-something year olds. While many of these bands have broken up or diverted their style of music to one that is more radio-friendly by today’s standards, one popular pop punk band of emo’s glory days still remains – and they’re back with a full-length album.
Early 2016 has seen the release of many new albums, many of which by already established chart-toppers. While Simple Plan has been wildly famous since their first release back in 2002, they created albums consistently through the early 2010’s, during which they stopped to take some time and re-create themselves as a band. Many fans believed the band had no future, as they provided few updates with regard to their future plans, and were very much absent from the live music scene. Many fans even forgot the band existed, realizing just how long it had been since their last release. In fact, 2016 marks the 5-year mark since the band’s first full-length album, and the 2-year mark since the release of their last EP. For a band that was once legendary, this behavior is odd to say least.
Despite rumors of a considerably possible breakup, Simple Plan came through with the first single off their new album “Taking One for the Team” in fall of 2015; the single was titled “I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed,” and marked noticeable differences in style compared to previous releases by the band. Simple Plan began as a strictly pop punk entity, appealing to the inner teenager in their listeners. Their music was angsty and relatable, with songs such as “I’m Just a Kid” and “Perfect” appealing to the inner teenager in everyone. Their newest release is noticeably more pop than punk, yet the band makes this change of style highly appealing, even to fans who have enjoyed their music since the band’s inception a decade and a half ago.
While it’s clear that Pierre Bouvier and the rest of the band worked to make noticeable differences in their style, it’s also clear that “Taking One for the Team” was created with long-time fans in mind. Yes, it does have noticeably less-punk undertones, and yes the songs may be more difficult to relate to as adults than they were as teenagers, but this album truly captures what it meant to be a teenager in the early 2000’s, and makes a great effort at bringing about a new age of pop punk in music world dominated by pop and metal. Very few bands promote this brand of old-school pop punk anymore, with the annual Warped Tour often featuring heavier artists than pop punk of old. Any diehard fans of pop punk will thoroughly enjoy “Taking One for the Team,” and any younger teens who may have missed the great era of emo music will have an opportunity to experience it in a new light.
Modern-day Simple Plan can be described as Blink-182 meets Maroon 5, with “Taking One for the Team” very effectively conveying the best of both pop punk and radio pop. One downside to the album is that it is far more easily digested than other pop punk, but that has always been one considerable downside to the music of Simple Plan. While bands like My Chemical Romance looked to appeal to feelings of depression and worthlessness, Simple Plan has always addressed some of the less-intense parts of being a teen, and this shows through with “Taking One for the Team” (as it has in each of their albums). The band tried getting serious with their self-titled release in 2009, however the attempt seemingly failed as they reversed this style back to a somewhat generic brand of meaningless pop punk with their 2011 release, “Get Your Heart On!” Simplicity aside, the music featured on “Taking One for the Team” is enjoyable to listen to, although it may not have you pondering the meaning of life or questioning any life decisions. More likely, it’ll have you wishing you were back in high school, heading out for a party on a Friday night.
While “Taking One for the Team” does feature many serious undertones or even any sort of deeper meaning, it does appeal to one very powerful part of human emotion: nostalgia. While most bands of the early 2000’s have either broken up or entirely evolved into something unrecognizable, Simple Plan has kept the same factors in play with “Taking One For the Team” as they did with each of their past albums, albeit the newer songs may be less relatable. With that in mind, it’s difficult to listen to the band’s newest album without flashing back to days of old, days where the angst of pop punk filled the radio waves and hearts of teens everywhere.
Simple Plan’s newest album is not recommended for listeners who want to enjoy a spiritual experience with their music, however it’s an excellent listen for anyone looking for a trip down memory lane. It’s sure to make long-time fans smile slyly when they remember the first time they ever heard the band, and will without a doubt stir feelings of nostalgia in listeners of all ages. This upbeat, fun collection of pop punk tunes is an excellent addition to the music library of all who appreciate early 2000’s emo culture, and will ultimately remind listeners of the early days of Simple Plan and pop punk as a whole.