Sound — 7
Simple Plan came out of the gates in 2002 as a straight pop-punk band, and has spread into other styles in their 3 releases since then, including alternative, hip-hop, pop, and even emo-esque elements at times. "Get Your Heart On!" features the same catchy guitar-driven sound meshed with a more pop-styled aesthetic, but shows clear signs of growth its songwriting. Simple Plan has clearly gotten more skilled and more comfortable in what they bring to the table, and it shows in "GYHO!"'s diversity. The song topics aren't anything unfamiliar, and generally stay true to pop-punk convention, but the perspectives in the songs are interesting, and don't read like a high school student pining away for an unrequited crush, as 2002's "No Pads, No Helmets... Just Balls" did at times. Album opener "You Suck at Love" describes a frustrating relationship with a person who is only interested in one-night stands; "Loser Of The Year" is about the perks of celebrity only to find out that it's not as enjoyable without someone to share it with; and "Anywhere Else But Here" is about wanting to get away from daily life and simply enjoy yourself. Even more so than the song topics, the new sounds that SP incorporates into "GYHO!" are what makes the album feel fresh and interesting. There's still your standard pop-punk sound, but many of the songs have a noticeable pop production to them, and several songs branch out into mellower genres; "Summer Paradise" is an acoustic reggae-influenced number that SP pulls off pretty well, and "Anywhere Else But Here" feels like a mellow dance club song. "Last One Standing" is a more straightforward alternative/punk number that feels like a bonus track from 2004's "Still Not Getting Any..." "And Gone Too Soon" and "This Song Saved My Life" would fit right in with 2008's self titled album. "GYHO!" is still Simple Plan, but with more exploration into different genres and evident signs of being comfortable with themselves as musicians.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics for "GYHO!" step it up from their prior releases, and while they could fit fairly well into your standard pop-punk fare, the songs approach them from a point that feels fresh. There are songs about infatuation, sour relationships, loss, loneliness, and so on, as well as a track that stands out as unique in its writing -"This Song Saved My Life" is made up of tweets, messages, and emails from fans and talks about how SP's music has helped deal with their lives. Considering SP comes from a pop-punk background, the lyrics fit the new sounds in "GHYO!" well, and don't really feel strained whether the song is a ballad, reggae-esque acoustic, dance-pop, or their trademark guitar-heavy sound. Each song brings a little something new, and the lyrics, while not incredibly impressive, rarely disappoint. Pierre Bouvier's singing on "GYHO!" has improved markedly from SP's early releases, much the same as it was on 2008's self-titled Simple Plan. There are times when the singing boarders on whiney, but for the most part the vocals are sincere, fun, and well delivered. "GYHO!" also has guest appearances by Natasha Bedingfield on "Jet Lag", Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low on "Freaking Me Out", and K'naan on "Summer Paradise", which changes up the dynamic every few songs in an interesting way.
Overall Impression — 7
"GYHO!" is pretty comparable to SP's first two releases, "No Pads, No Helmets... Just Balls" from 2002 and "Still Not Getting Any..." from 2004, but with more diversity in topic and genre, and with more of a progression toward pop-style production. Fans of All Time Low, New Found Glory, Yellowcard and the like would probably enjoy the record. At its best, "GYHO!" is a fun, catchy, modern-sounding album that meshes genres and features several appearances by well-known guests. At its worst, the pop production is rather heavy, and can distract from the guitar-driven sound that SP has focused on in the past, especially for longtime fans. It grows on you, though. Standout tracks include "Loser Of The Year", "Summer Paradise", and "This Song Saved My Life". As a SP fan, if this CD were lost or stolen, I'd buy it again. The light-hearted fun of the record outweighs the poppy sound, and at $13, I wouldn't feel like my money was wasted.