By Kevin Hudec
By Kevin Hudec
“Screw you classical music, this is punk rock.”
This is the statement that the pop/punk band Motion City Soundtrack seems to be making in the intro of their newly released third album “Even If It Kills Me.”
The opening track entitled “I Fell In Love Without You” starts with various classical instruments being tuned and warmed up for a performance when a sudden jarring noise, which sounds like a guitar dying, cuts them short and Jesse Johnson’s moog screams into action. (A moog is an instrument similar to a keyboard however with a distinctive high-pitched sound.)
The guitar work from Joshua Cain and Justin Pierre doesn’t quite seem to work with the moog; however the drums provided by Tony Thaxton bridges the gap to create the signature sound of MCS. Matt Taylor rounds out the group, providing bass lines that are not only note-worthy, but far above his past work.
Epitaph Records has included Motion City Soundtrack in its lineup of bands since early 2003 when the band’s first album “I Am The Movie,” released launching the bands career with the singles “The Future Freaks Me Out” and “My Favorite Accident.”
In mid-2005, the band released its sophomore album “Commit This to Memory.” The first single, “Everything is Alright,” featured Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump’s vocals and instrumental work from members of Limbeck.
With “Even If It Kills Me,” the band continues working with guests including Shawn Harris from The Matches, Say Anything frontman Max Bemis and legendary guitarist/producer Ric Ocasek of The Cars.
Bemis and Harris are credited as backing vocals in “Hello Helicopter” and “Point of Extinction.” Ocasek played additional keyboards on “Calling All Cops.”
Motion City Soundtrack has made a name for itself for writing suspenseful lyrics which are so shrouded in mystery you can take away just about anything from the smart-yet-deadpan lines. Yet at the same time, it uplifts you with its quirkiness.
These lyrics can make you grin like a child and then quickly send dreadful chills down your spine. Set to a background of pleasing pop sounds, Motion City Soundtrack creates a new mood that is uniquely them.
The music throughout the entire CD is fun, amusing, and accompanied by lyrics that, if you actually break down, could make a psychiatrist run screaming from the room.
A great example is the opening lyrics to the CD’s fifth track, “Calling All Cops.” Pierre melodically starts “Calling all cops and Autobots/I hope that you’re still there/saving victims from the wreckage/of our wild affairs/such wild affairs.”
Looking deeper into the lyrics also makes you realize that not only are the lyrics well written by poetic standards, but they are well written grammatically as well.
Pierre and Cain can write songs which effortlessly use words that most people have a difficult time working into their every day vocabulary.
“Coup de grace,” “synergy,” “macabre” and “cauterize” are just a few examples of words that add to the depth of each statement without clarifying the meaning at all.
However, don’t think for a moment that this upbeat pop-punk band stuck to what they’ve done in the past and played it safe.
“The Conversation” is a mournful number with a piano slowly playing an amazing, emotional and painfully simple-yet-eloquent melody.
“Hello Helicopter” also features piano; however, rather than adding to the music, it really brings into focus the problems with the CD.
While it did branch out in a new direction using an instrument that it had never used before, it didn’t use the piano in any of its upbeat songs. The piano was only used in slow mournful situations that many bands could have used in the exact same way.
This isn’t a large problem and the album is extremely enjoyable overall, but when analyzing the steps that the band took between “Commit this to Memory” and “Even If It Kills Me” it seems as though the band may have hit a plateau in their creativity.
In fact, MCS even borrowed from old styles like the Post Grunge genre.
“Where I Belong” sounds like it may have been influenced heavily by Third Eye Blind.
Even with these problems the band managed to stay edgy with songs like “Antonia”, an upbeat tune which showcases Johnson’s moog about a girl who “is scared to death of cobra snakes just like Indiana Jones” and who “misplaced her virginity.”
When all is said and done, “Even If It Kills Me” is a great album which showcases the talent of each band member.