Sound — 6
Where do we get started in talking about Simple Plan and their new EP, "Get Your Heart On - The Second Coming!" ... well, the songs included on the EP were originally demos of songs that didn't make it onto their last album, "Get Your Heart On!", thus the name of the EP. For those of you checking out Simple Plan for the first time, the band is technically a French-Canadian pop-punk band formed in 2002, though their earlier work was known for having specifically the Southern Cali pop-punk sound to it. Since then, while the band has improved their overall songwriting, they have also experimented further into a more pop-oriented sound. To the band's credit, they have maintained their original line-up for the entire life-cycle of the band, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. There are 7 tracks on this EP with a total runtime of just under 25 minutes. The album opens up with the track "Ordinary Life," which is a really high energy track that reminds me why the band was compared to other pop-punk bands like Good Charlotte earlier in their career. The song's theme is basically that the songwriter refuses to live an ordinary life, but instead is going to "live." "Rest of Us" is the next track on the album, which kind of flips the switch over to the more pop offerings on the album. The song is supposed to be a ballad to all the "freaks and losers," but we're getting really close to the realm of this being written for "Glee," by the sound of it. "Outta My System" is up next, which is about going out and partying in order to get an ex-girlfriend off of the songwriter's mind. This song is almost an equal marriage of pop music and pop-punk. "Fire in My Heart" is up next, and this song reminds me almost immediately of something by Owl City to the point that I tried to research to see if Owl City was somehow involved with this track. As far as I could find they were not involved, but this song is pretty much unrecognizable to the original pop-punk sound the band was known for on their first releases. The next track, "In," is another track trying to find a more perfect marriage between pop-punk and straightforward pop music. I'm not really buying into this sound at all - it seems their original sound already had a sufficient degree of pop in it, and now it is just becoming excessive and is more like a pop band with very mild punk elements in it. The fact that this review has made me use the words "mild" and "punk" together says a lot about the EP. "Lucky One" is next up, which seems to be a fairly straightforward acoustic broken-hearted ballad. The album closes out with the track "Try," which is a pop track without any real punk influences left in it, being primarily driven by piano, keyboard and synths until the end of the track - the sampled hand-clapping seems like it took away from the song's sincerity. At the end of the day, this EP is pretty much on track with where the band was with the release of "Get Your Heart On!".
Lyrics — 6
Pierre Bouvier provides lead vocals for the band, as well as being the primary songwriter for the band. Pierre's voice isn't overly impressive, but it is very sufficient for what he's doing. I suspect there is more auto-tune being used on the album besides the overt uses you hear a few times on the album, but sadly this is the direction music in general is going lately. As far as the lyrical themes on the album, I felt like a lot of the lyrics aren't really authentic anymore. Pierre is writing a lot of songs about breakup, alienation, being a freak and a loser, while at the same time being in a successful band, being in a happy marriage (from what I can gather online), and having two children. Say what you like, but I think a band's lyrics should be authentic from their experiences for the most part and not written for a specific audience, necessarily. Here are some lyrics from the track "Fire in My Heart": "I betcha didn't know, you started up a chain reaction/ I saw no intention on your face/ It might have been some kind of/ chemical attraction/ I felt a spark, it left a mark I can't erase/ Its like oh oh/ Something like a bolt of lightning/ Oh oh, It's going on inside/ Cause I'm burning up it ain't no joke/ And all my cells are growing old/ Caught up in a blaze with no way out/ And if my self-control goes up in smoke/ One more hit, I get so stoked that I/ I'm glowing in the dark/ You lit a fire in my heart." The lyrics aren't necessarily bad, but I can see why they may not have been on the album, but instead were saved for an EP.
Overall Impression — 6
At times, I really enjoyed the energy of Simple Plan on this EP, but the whole thing felt kind of faked in the long run. I couldn't really get behind these guys in their mid-thirties singing about being adolescent misfits. I didn't necessarily hate the album, but I couldn't find a lot of positives to draw me into it, either. My favorite song on the album would probably be the opening track, "Ordinary Life," which I'm basing primarily off the energy of the track. I hope that the band takes some steps in the near future to find an authentic voice in their music.