|Simple Plan - Still Not Getting Any...|
|Music Disc Reviews DualDisc|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Tuesday, 26 October 2004|
When evaluating music, or almost any art for that matter, it’s often necessary to highlight the differences between creations celebrating simplicity and lesser examples that are just plain simplistic. For instance, Neil Young (along with his garage band Crazy Horse) has been releasing simple yet beautifully loud rock ‘n’ roll for years. His basic formula of primitively pounded drums, fat guitar chords and gruff vocals is the kind of straightforward approach that should never be tweaked or changed. But in the case of Simple Plan, you have a nondescript Montreal-based punk-pop band. Their new album Still Not Getting Any … combines non-poetic lyrics with recycled guitar riffs, for something that is unoriginal and ultimately unappealing, if not altogether unmemorable.
Granted, the group’s heart is in the right place and impressionable teens may be heartened by the self-affirmation expressed through “Shut Up,” as well as the empathy found in “Welcome to My Life.” Even parents may find themselves grunting out an “amen” or two while “Crazy” plays, since it lists many of today’s inessential pop culture obsessions. But there are far better examples of vulnerability and artful social commentary to be discovered in music – Radiohead comes immediately to mind. Just think of Simple Plan as dumbed-down self-help (if of course self-help can even be dumbed down any more).
Another problem with Simple Plan (and millions of other like it) is whininess. The song “Welcome to My World” asks “Why is everything so hard?” and the closer, “One,” is yet another “why me” kind of song. Wasn’t using anger as energy the original intent of punk? Isn’t it a tool to help fight against social wrongs? This “new punk,” or whatever it is, comes off as a pity party with guitars instead. New punk is now the social wrong, methinks.
Lyrics aside, Simple Plan is also not attempting anything new musically. Producer Bob Rock, who is mostly associated with hard rock outfits like Metallica instead of punk, reveals his dire unfamiliarity here. For instance, “Me Against The World” is much closer to something you might hear on a classic rock station, and even includes a bit of jangly guitar. About the only similarity between this music and real punk is the almost complete lack of guitar solos throughout. “Promise” contains one, by the way, but such six-string outbursts are few and far between.
Simple Plan was most likely inspired by Green Day. Green Day, as you may recall, was also once young, simplistic and stupid. But with “American Idiot,” Green Day proves to have become an intelligent musical voice. In other words, maturation is possible. Right now, however, Simple Plan is still in its primitive stage and better left alone in its cage. Call us back when you’ve grown up.