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Album Review: Simple Plan – Harder Than It Looks

Artist: Simple Plan
Album: Harder Than It Looks
Release Date: May 6th 2022
Reviewer: Belinda Mann

Simple Plan are due to release their highly anticipated new album, Harder Than It Looks this Friday 6 May 2022.  The album is their first official release since 2016 and also the first after the departure of David Desrosiers in 2020. The Album features released singles The Antidote, Ruin My Life, Congratulations and their latest single release Wake Me Up (When This Nightmares Over) and in true Simple Plan style, gets you bouncing, bobbing and singing along to songs that are relatable to everyday life.

The opening track Wake Me Up (When This Nightmares Over) on first listen gives the impression it was composed with the current Ukraine crisis in mind or perhaps in reference to COVID-19. According to the band however, this is not the case. The track was put together some time ago, even prior to the onset of the pandemic and is a song about “life and love” and a deteriorating relationship. It’s reported that when the band saw the first images from the war in Ukraine, they felt heartbroken and powerless and it made them want to do something to help. The music video was filmed with a Ukrainian cast and crew to raise awareness and funds for the impacted children and families with all money generated by YouTube views going directly to Ukrainian relief efforts through the UNICEF Ukraine Emergency Appeal. In addition to this, the band have pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds through The Simple Plan Foundation from tickers sold throughout their current tour.

Ruin My Life is a true pop-punk track from start to finish and is a stand out track for me. Its all about overcoming adversity and not only surviving but becoming stronger and more resilient because of the crap life can at times put us through. This song will strike a chord with many, as the lyrics say “sorry to disappoint you, you didn’t ruin my life” …. boom, suck on that haters!

If there is one thing I appreciate about Simple Plan, its their ability to write songs that relate to everyone. With a lot of people going through tough times over the past 2 years, The Antidote talks to the importance of having someone or something to turn to when life gets really hard. Music, as I am sure many fans would agree has the power to heal, comfort us in our worst moments and provide us with a lifeline when we need it most. The Antidote is a cracker of a track, “its classic Simple Plan with a modern twist” the band said in a press release. It has all the elements fans have come to love and expect from the group, its big, has an energetic chorus with its honest and heartfelt lyrics talking to and acknowledging the struggles we all face.

Million Pictures of You is so heart felt and an all round positive vibe. The opening beat gets your head bopping, sending you on that memorable journey of how love feels and the impacts someone can have on you both mentally and physically. Anxiety is a different sound. Its slower, with melodic and repeated lyrics captivating you from the get go. As a high functioning anxious person, every word on this track hits home for me. From not being able to sleep to feeling like you can’t breathe, anxiety for many is real and many of us live with it every day the world over. Kudos to Simple Plan for providing us with a refreshing song to about anxiety and all that it encompasses. It’s a positive step in breaking down the stigma that many of us experience daily.

Congratulations is a classic Simple Plan punk pop track about someone who has done wrong by you and how karma will eventually come back for them. As the lyrics say “What goes up comes down, it’s a long fall from the top”. A highlight track on the album for me is Iconic. It’s a true example of an anthemic song and is infectious and uplifting. It’s a song about believing in yourself, about not listening to the haters, rubbing success back in their face, proving them wrong and moving on. The message of believing in yourself is what we all need at the moment in what is currently a very uncertain world impacted by continuing crisis’. 

By the time you’ve made it to Best Day Of My Life, you’re feeling the messages of self-awareness an overall positive buzz. Lovers of Green Day will enjoy this track. The inspiring chorus is a vibe – “I’m on the top of the world, holding my chin up high, cos I’m living every day like it’s the best fucking day of my life”. It’s a track that gets you thinking about life in general and how we should find the beauty in everyday and live life to the fullest. In every sunset, every wave, every time you see the face of you loved ones, be grateful, for we are truly blessed. 

Slow Motion focuses once again on the romantic relationship and the magical moments being in love can bring. The feeling of being in slow motion, not being able to breathe when your crush walks in the room. And lastly, the track Two ends the album and brings us the realities of what life looks like after your parent’s separate. Much like every song on this album, many will relate living in a blended family and what its like moving between two homes. It’s the voice of my four children who all grew up living across two homes with parents who didn’t get along, a sad but unfortunate reality.

Musically, Harder Than It Looks is a true pop-punk album and a damn good one. My head literally did not stop bopping from start to finish. I believe Simple Plan have managed to create what they were looking for – happiness and positivity. More than 20 years into their career they continue to love being in this band more than ever and still have the same passion for playing music and writing songs together. You can clearly tell from the positivity and energy you feel when listening to their songs that they all just scream joy!

 Harder Than It Looks track listing:

Wake Me Up (When This Nightmares Over)
Ruin My Life (Feat Deryck Whibley)
The Antidote
Million Pictures of You
Best Day Of My Life
Slow Motion

Simple Plan Are:

Pierre Bouvier // vocals
Chuck Comeau // drums
Jeff Stinco // lead guitar
Sebastien Lefebvre // rhythm guitar

Hear2Zen Magazine
Hear2Zen is a "Non Genre Specific" publication that celebrates all things sensory.

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