Photo Credit: Upset Mag Promo
Simple Creatures, which is comprised of Mark Hoppus (who continues to front Blink-182) and Alex Gaskarth (who continues to front All Time Low) is an almost all-synth offering in which the guitars mostly remain zipped up in their gig bags.
The duo’s new EP Everything Opposite opens with the track “Special,” which sounds an unmistakable lot like Lorde’s “Royals”. While that song is not exactly the least re-imagined or re-interpreted of the last ten years (it was even covered by Bruce Springsteen), this unofficial take on it is even thematically similar, albeit while skimping on the more concise imagery of tigers on a gold leash, etc., in favor of a more generalize plea: “I just wanna feel good // I wanna feel special // Dig down deep beneath the pressure // I wanna fake the pain away.” Obviously “Special” does not share the “be happy with what you’ve got” message that “Royals” bestowed upon an entire generation. Could “Special” possibly be intended as a direct response to “Royals?” The EP is entitled Everything Opposite, after all.
“One Little Lie” is a bit closer structurally to the sound that Hoppus and Gaskarth are already known for, balancing the “angry” and pop elements of their other bands. Mid-tempo “Need Me” definitely needs to acknowledge the influence of the Stereo MC’s 1992 classic “Connected,” at least in the verse, with a bit of Gorillaz thrown in for funky measure. “NVM” is a tight, up-tempo take on the down subject of a broken (or possibly unrequited) romance.
The duo dusts the electric guitars off for at least some of the EP’s finale “Thanks, I Hate It,” in which they vent about giving their all only to get the back-handed compliment suggested by the song’s title, which is spoken each time with the music dropped. Are Hoppus and Gaskarath accusing their own audience of being a bunch of ingrates? Or is this simply a generalized crack at punk irony?
Either way, you probably won’t hate the song or the rest of the EP. “Extended Play” is almost a moot concept in the age of music streaming, since it’s not as though having to be conscious of how many tracks will fit on a vinyl release is really an issue to anyone. Still, between today’s artists often seeming to release only individual tracks or else everything but the kitchen sink all at once, the half-dozen tracks on Everything Opposite might actually provide a model for the right amount of one-time output, enough songs to have integrity as a singular work without coming close to being overkill.
That said, the unapologetically current-sounding production and – despite the cynicism of some of the lyrics – the songwriting, will make Everything Opposite everything the opposite of a tough sell to radio or a potential commercial failure, which may in turn cost it points with listeners self-conscious about appearing to be following the crowd. But when everything about Everything Opposite is taken into objective consideration, we can’t help but conclude that while they may be Simple Creatures, they put together a pretty darn smart EP.