The All-American Rejects became a household name in 2005-2006 for their infectiously catchy singles "Dirty Little Secret", "Move Along," and "It Ends Tonight." Before that, they were semi-known for their equally catchy song, "Swing, Swing."
While nowhere near complicated, The All-American Rejects are, in my humble opinion, a pretty good band, despite the breaks in vocalist Tyson Ritter's voice. His trademark voice-cracks and falsettos are what give AAR some of their charm, and their simple, yet nicely written lyrics.
Their latest single 'Gives You Hell' has been circulating the airwaves for the past three months, giving it a chance to sink into everybody's head. Unfortunately, the song is so simple, cheerful (despite the lyrics), and melodic that it refuses to leave your head. I have no doubt that it's going to become the song directed at ex-boyfriends for 2009, and maybe for years after.
I recently recieved a copy of 'When the World Comes Down', and I'm impressed. Where their self-titled debut was raw, 'Move Along' was more polished and well-done. Where 'Move Along' was a happy-sounding, straight-up pop record, 'When the World Comes Down' is a little less upbeat, a little less goofy...and a little less AAR. There are more folk elements to be found on this CD than pop/punk: finger snapping, clapping, group sing alongs, acoustic ballads. Is that bad? Not at all. AAR differs from album to album, but still retains most of the elements that made them known in the first place.
In other words, they should have called this "The All-American Rejects Part 2", as this sounds a little more like their first CD than 'Move Along' did.
Each CD has its own tone. 'AAR' was a happy-sounding, raw piece of material that focused more on the guitars and electric drums. 'Move Along' was a polished piece of work that people enjoyed, and focused more on piano. 'When the World Comes Down' is a polished album with an emphasis on synthesizer. It's ever-present in most of the songs (especially the bonus track which sounds uncannily like 'Can't Take It' from 'Move Along').
This album's tone is a little darker. "The Real World", while lighthearted, is a little darker than the other tracks that AAR have recorded. It opens up with a distorted guitar, and moves its way into a nice synthesizer riff, but the lyrics...oh, the lyrics. During the verses, you can practically see a gray winter sky with dead trees in a snowy field. Excellent track, and this one stands out among the rest.
There are some downfalls. Like with most pop/punk, the album gets semi-repetitive after the fourth track. There are only so many times you can hear the same five chords played, and while the guitarists' solos are nice, their simplicity has a tendency to get dull. The patented AAR formula can get a little dull after awhile
There are a lot of highlights to this album, 'Gives You Hell' aside. "Fallin' Apart" delves into something that Dexy's Midnight Runners would envy, opening up with drums and a synthesizer violin. Tyson's vocals shine in this angsty anthem, and the solo, while simple, is subtle in its entirety.
"Another Heart Calls" is another highlight, complete with female vocals. This sounds like it would fit on 'Move Along' very well, but it finds its own place here in the middle of the album. I'm not sure who the female vocalist is, but her harmonization with Tyson is wonderful and very, very well-done.
All in all, this album is pretty good. It's not their best ('Move Along' takes that place for me), but it's very enjoyable. 'Gives You Hell' is not the best track, despite what most fourteen year old girls are going to tell you. You should give this album a shot, but don't knock it until you've listened to it the entire way through.
Apologies; this is my first review in awhile. Thanks for reading, but if you don't like AAR, then please...don't waste your time posting comments about how much you hate them. It wastes the time of those who actually do enjoy them. And all of you who plan on getting in arguments over who's better, what's better...take it somewhere else, or say it to each other's faces. It's the easiest thing in the world to call someone a fag online, but you look stupid when you do it.
Anyway, peace, and thanks for reading.
GM1 Carthay, PO USN