The mediocrity churned out by pop-punk outfits usually makes reviewing their latest offering ridiculously humdrum. Frequently singing about the same boring topics, using similar catchy choruses, crunching out predictable guitar riffs and shelling out radio-friendly fodder that milks the teenage demographic for all it's worth, too often has critics penning monotony that pains them to the very core of their being.
Surprisingly, Simple Plan have defied the norm, stepping away from the tedious releases contemporaries such as New Found Glory and Good Charlotte shell out. Successfully reinventing themselves on their latest album, the quintet have well and truly outdone themselves ? sure to garner a new fan-base and perhaps scare off supposed diehard followers.
"It's something totally different that we're trying out. You know we figured this is our third album now and we needed to try stuff, just for ourselves. To keep it fresh and fun," enthuses lead singer Pierre Bouvier. "Honestly I don't really know how it is going to turn out but I have a really good feeling."
Suffice to say, "try stuff" they have, and "something totally different" has been achieved.
Since epitomising pop-punk dribble with tracks like 'I'm Just A Kid', 'Shut Up!' and 'Crazy', released between 2002 and 2005, an air of maturity progressively befell the band over the past two years ? the consequence being 'Simple Plan'.
There's hardly a disappointing song on the album, with experimentation aplenty showing Bouvier and cronies are not afraid to break the mould.
Some of the stuff they pull off is truly genre-morphing, exemplified by the Panic at the Disco-esque 'The End' and the cleverly layered vocals on 'Holding On'.
The instrumentalism employed in the opening segments of 'When I?m Gone' and 'Your Love Is A Lie' is distinctively innovative, while the keyboard work on 'I Can Wait Forever' and 'Save You' pull the heartstrings; the latter a track about the struggle Bouvier?s brother had with lymphoma cancer.
The group even delve into a bit of hip-hop in the verses of 'Generation', with gang vocals featuring in apt moderation throughout the album.
Ardent fans need not flee their allegiance, though. Amidst all the change lie songs that typify Simple Plan?s signature sound of old: 'Take My Hand' and 'Time To Say Goodbye' prime examples.
But this project remains an out-and-out success, and has certainly topped anything fellow countrymen Sum 41 and Billy Talent have released over the last couple of years.