Vying for this year’s most ironic musical collaboration, the new alt-rock project, Simple Creatures, places Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus; whose favorite past time is constantly making fun of All Time Low; with Alex Gaskarth; All Time Low’s lead vocalist and songwriter. Catching wind of this, probably a month or two a go, caused me to burst out laughing; as I wondered how this would turn out. I may be a past Blink-182 fan, but the idea of two no-long-relevant pop-punk artists combining to create a new band was intriguing, in the worst way.
While the product of these two is entertaining, it’s not the good kind of entertaining. I tend to look for the best things to analyze first when reviewing music, but instead, Strange Love forced me to search for the few things that weren’t awful. And I have to tell you, even that wasn’t so easy. If I’m going to start with the positives, some of the bass-lines are pretty catchy and danceable; so I suppose Mark’s instrumental contribution could be worse. Other than that; the beginning of “Adrenaline” grabs your attention, but that’s it.
The opening track, “Drug,” is a pretty good signifier for what the rest of the EP gives you. Overly loud and grandiose vocals blast your ears as they attempt to be anthemic, but instead, you just get discount Twenty-One Pilots. The “Na na na na na” in the background of the chorus is bearable once, before it becomes nothing more than an annoying ear-worm. Generic, predictable, love-struck lyrics fill the entirety of it as well. The creativity is simply lacking. They do attempt to throw you off with sudden, large dynamic changes, but rather than add an interesting element to the song, it just makes everything sound disjointed and awkward.
While most of those things can be said for every song; there are things wrong with the release as a whole. The production has a constant rough, static-like filter around both the instrumentals and the vocals. I imagine this is supposed to make it sound edgy or unique, but it just comes off as annoying and probably harms the overall sound quality of the record itself. But sadly, that’s one of the few things that sets them apart from every popular rock group out there today. Their sound, while not like any specific artist, takes from just about everyone and melds it together into a chaotic mess. They have the overly-anthemic parts of Imagine Dragons and Fall Out Boy, some almost rap-like parts from Twenty-One Pilots in songs like “Lucy,” and honestly, the lyrics could fit into just about any Panic! song out there. There’s just nothing that they did on their own here.
Strange Love is, unsurprisingly, non-unique and not worth your time. Bringing nothing new to the table, Simple Creatures simple-y follow the same trends of recent All Time Low albums; borrowing from similar, more popular artists to attempt to maintain relevance. The EP remains as nothing but a microcosm of 2019’s popular rock trends.