Motion City Soundtrack – [Album]

Monday, 18 January 2010

How exactly Motion City Soundtrack managed to talk themselves into a deal with Columbia after the abysmal flop that was Even If It Kills Me may never be known. That album even saw Alternative Press – previously a notable MCS booster – turn on the band and it's easy to understand why; they overreached and paid for it. The success of Commit This To Memory was well deserved, Mark Hoppus helped to sculpt some fine Top 40 punk out of the rock that the band submitted to him and it caught on. The band was emboldened by their triumph so, the next time out, they thought even bigger; getting top Car guy Ric Ocasek to produce.

The problem with that was, Hoppus clearly had more to do with the success of Commit This To Memory than even the band realized because. As the follow up proved by negative example, he also added variety to the tracks on Commit This To Memory and that was simply beyond Ocasek. Fans recognized the difference right away and the album tanked.

So what does a band do when they've got to prove their first success wasn't a fluke? They go back to a winning formula, cross their fingers and hope.

As it turns out, lightning can strike the same place twice.

Combining the more raw and urgent aspects of their early sound with the more plastic and poppy elements that 'mainstream' punk favors, Motion City Soundtrack manages to straddle that razor-thin line that most fans place between 'good' and 'mainstream' punk without getting chopped in half under their own weight and they present and they present listeners with that tenuous image from the slick and snide lunge that opens “Worker Bee.” After three years gone to recharging the batteries, Motion City Soundtrack stampedes forth with spotless and tidy guitars and not a stray spark in sight as the band single-mindedly make a dash for the hearts of those listeners that were left cold by Even If It Kills Me's unabashed vacuity. Each part of the song is airtight and perfectly separated; there is no contrived bleed between verses and choruses – no stumbling or throwaway moments – just just the sort of attack that one could expect from a fourth generation punk band with the intelligence to use pop for the trash culture fodder it is and do it so well that audiences will apologize for liking it so much.

Those trash culture references and cliches are the magic, accessible touch on My Dinosaur Life. Each reference is painfully trite and gets worn proudly on the band's collective sleeve in tracks like “A Lifeless Ordinary” and “Pulp Fiction” and the band is clearly revelling in such obviously meaningless fare but, at the same time, there's a grain of self-deprecation seeded in (most obviously in the rough fluff anthem “@!#?@!”) that seems as if the band is deliberately conceding a bit of silliness to laugh at themselves which will make listeners cheer all the harder. It seems unlikely on paper but, in the case of My Dinosaur Life, Motion City Soundtrack gets to have their cake and eat it too and that they refuse to take themselves seriously here leaves the future wide open for the band. This album is a great one to introduce Motion City Soundtrack to a wider audience they do play down to the lowest common intellectual denominator at points but, at others, they play to the punk rock elitists and laugh at the poseurs. It's a smart album, but it only tries to act like it enough to keep the snobs appeased and just has fun everywhere else.



Motion City Soundtrack – “Disappear” – My Dinosaur Life


My Dinosaur Life
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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