When I first got word of Mark Hoppus and Alex Gaskarth joining forces for a band that would become Simple Creatures, my reaction was that they would be able to play off of each other’s strengths as songwriters and musicians brilliantly. Little did I know that this side project of sorts would morph into one of my favorite electronica-driven new bands to come out of this decade. Twelve songs later into their debut in 2019, and we are left with a much better picture of who Simple Creatures are. Whereas Strange Love was an introduction to the band and what they were capable of, Everything Opposite finds Mark and Alex at their most confident, accomplished, and strongest.
Kicking off the set with some mellow beats on “Special,” Hoppus sets the tone in the first verse when he sings, “Nothing sinister starts out sober / Sometimes the chemicals work me over / The things you learn at 4 AM / When do I become who I am?” Hoppus’s delivery matches the tone and content of the lyrics but quickly breaks away for Gaskarth to let the chorus soar to brilliant heights. Simple Creatures fully understand how to create well-crafted songs with killer hooks that we have grown accustomed to from the two songwriters over their successful careers.
“One Little Lie” follows the great opener with more back and forth vocals from the two front-men, and nothing is distracting as they blend vocals, or harmonize from time to time. It was almost as if Hoppus and Gaskarth were compelled to do this project since they understood each other not only as musicians but their personalities as well. I have seen Gaskarth develop from a Blink-182 tribute project of sorts with All Time Low, into a full-fledged professional songwriter. This development certainly didn’t happen overnight, and his gradual progression only goes to show his tiresome work ethic that he puts into every song.
Hoppus and Gaskarth are at their best on “Need Me,” which features a very cool beat and jazzy guitar to bounce over the vocals. It’s a hell of a pop song and deserves more attention than it has been getting. The vast number of styles and moods that Simple Creatures have showcased on just twelve songs into their incarnation shows that they were born to make this music together.
Other tracks such as “The Wolf” features some down-trodden starts and stops and broods, rather than straight out rocks. Well-crafted lyrics such as, “You’ll keep telling me I’m bad for me and worse for the world / You’ll keep telling me I’m bad for me / I’ll keep sipping on the poison that you slip in my drink / Can’t help feeling like it’s poetry,” only further solidify how great a duo these two musicians are.
“NVM” features some subtle synths and traded vocals on the chorus where they both sing, “I’ve been, I’ve been, crying, crying wolf so long / It’s hard to believe me anymore / I’ve been, I’ve been, dying, dying for ya /But you were never mine, so goodnight and never mind.” Each artist in this band knows precisely what they are best at, and they honed in on those strengths to make each of these songs have lasting value.
The album closer, “Thanks, I Hate It,” summarizes what the band is capable of creating, and shows that Mark and Alex have plenty more tricks up their sleeves if they continue to collaborate and make music as Simple Creatures. The near-rapped vocals in the verses are a bit of a mix-up from the sung verses of their earlier work, yet it further adds to the allure and likeability of the band in general.
One can only hope that Simple Creatures get enough exposure, streams, and attention to continue to let their band create well-crafted pop songs such as what we found on this excellent EP. Mark and Alex were bound to make music together at some point, but even the most skeptical of critics has to be a little bit surprised by just how well they work as a unit. Simple Creatures are anything but a simple band; in fact, they may be one of the best new bands to create binge-worthy music in 2019.