First I'd like to say that I don't quite understand when people say, "it took me a few listens" to get this record. If anything, I think it is their most immediate work, because although the songs may, tonally, sound varied, it is truly their most cohesive record. Their is a thread running through Simple Math that is more like a huge fucking lasso, roping us all in, and that is of course Andy Hull's expressive pipes. He does a lot of similar things with his voice (ending cadences with a high-pitched lilt, often using very staccato notes, etc) and since this is, for better or worse, a concept album in that it tells the story of a time in his life, it would be incorrect to say something as trite as, "There are a lot of different types of songs on Simple Math."
In fact, i don't think there's been an album compelling me to listen from beginning to end like this in a long time. But also, I think the amazing thing here, is that he has taken something so personal, that a lot of his fan base is too young to understand, and found a way to make it universal. He said in an interview, "I am not dumb enough to think people won't place their own meanings on top of mine." And it's that attitude that makes for long-lasting attachment.
But all that mumbo jumbo, in a way, is moot. Because I honestly don't feel the need to sit down and analize why I like this album. Rather, I felt this thing in my bones, as iffy as that sounds, telling me that this was what I needed. Telling me that this piece of art was something that would stick with me, and to an extent, change how I thought about certain types of rock music.
When it comes down to it, we all just want to be lucky enough to find something that makes us happy. And although it's unfair to say, "Thank goodness he went through this because look what came of it!," that's exactly how I feel. This isn't really an album to me, because albums have become disposable whether we believe so or not. This feels more like a book, more like a page-turner that requires dissections and discussions of motif and theme.
Simple Math, obviously, is not an easy album in many ways. But to me, it was the easiest album to love in a long time. Bravo to these dudes.