Motion City Soundtrack

Even If It Kills Me

Written by: PP on 15/10/2007 15:35:37

Motion City Soundtrack's third album "Even If It Kills Me" has been one of the most anticipated releases of this year without a doubt. Many questions dwelled in the minds of the critics and the fans alike; Will the go more pop? Will they return to the punkier style of their debut album? Will they forget everything they've done today and go for the same useless theatrical sound that so many other big pop punk / nu-emo bands have gone for? All valid questions, since the band was pretty much set for any of those possible directions after 2005's "Commit This To Memory".

The first song on the record is explosive: "Fell In Love Without You" has all the elements that made me fall in love with the band in the first place, and is easily the best song on the record. The smooth synths take the lead like we're used to - they are hyperactive, infectiously catchy and set the mood of the song to be more summery than summer itself. Fans of songs like "Capital H" will adore this song without a doubt. "This Is For Real" is slightly bouncier and a tad bit poppier, sounding much more like the songs from "Commit This To Memory". It takes a few listens to grow into, but it's an excellent song nonetheless. "It Had To Be You" continues on the pop line, but the synths are still a major part of their sound.

One of the biggest reasons I found the last two Motion City records so attractive was Justin's Patrick Stump-like ability to move his voice up and down scales on the high-end of the vocal range, much like how Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy in their earlier songs. "Last Night" shows that exact vocal pattern, but aside from that the song is a bit too poppy and quiet to be a 'real' Motion City Soundtrack song, especially because there aren't that many synths placed on the song. "Calling All Cops" suffers from the same pop-sensibility, in that the melody just leans a tad bit too much towards the radios. But these two songs coupled with "This Is For Real" showcase the growth of the band. It's not too large-scale, which could risk alienating us, the band's original fanbase, but it's not too small either to say that the band's standing still in their artistic evolution.

But still, you can't help but wonder why the band didn't write more of "Fell In Love..." and less of "Can't Finish What You Started", another song that relies far too much on Justin's joyous vocal patterns and witty lyrics, and far too little on the riffs and original synths. This shows on "The Conversation" as well, which is an equivalent of Fall Out Boy's "Golden". There's just no need to have a crappy piano ballad breaking the flow of the album. If they really want to show their soft (melancholic?) side, slap it on as a bonus track but for god's sake don't put it in the middle of the album. Luckily the band had enough sense to include "Broken Heart" next on the album, which is pretty much a quintessential Motion City Soundtrack song. Its relatively fast pace and Justin's unmatchable ability to write catchy vocal lines are finally matched by equally good instrumental parts, a trait that has been largely missing for the last four or five songs on the record. Sadly, the steam is then lost on "Hello Helicopter", one of those too poppy songs I talked about earlier on.

So what's the final conclusion, then? For the good songs it'd be easy to slap on a praising 9 rating for the record, but at the same time for the ballads and the slower songs you could just as well give it a 6. With songs like "Point Of Extinction", "Fell In Love.." and "Broken Heart" you could argue that the band is still its own charming self, but looking at the weaker middle part of the album, you could easily say the band has thought about the radio just an inch too much. Individual bias aside, "Even If It Kills Me" is still a true Motion City Soundtrack record, keeping the band relevant for its fanbase while also almost certainly bringing truckloads of new fans over as soon as the new songs seriously hit the radio waves. It might be their poppiest record to date, but for what it's worth, it still rocks.

Download: Fell In Love Without You, Broken Heart, Point Of Extinction
For the fans of: Mae, The Academy Is..., Fall Out Boy, Cartel
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.09.2007
Epitaph

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