Motion City Soundtrack
My Dinosaur Life


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Knott EMERITUS
January 16th, 2010 | 171 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Finally.

It really could quite easily have killed them. When Motion City Soundtrack announced that the follow-up to their 2007 pop-fest would take them into Major Label Territory™, the outlook seemed bleak; a more polished, more textbook rendition of their most polished and textbook record hardly sparked excitement among fans of their earlier, more accomplished releases. It very much appeared that the Minnesota quintet's undeniable songwriting talents were destined to become suffocated under a mess of gimmicks and near-self-parody, left to meander without direction or purpose. So likely did this outcome seem that even teaser-track 'Disappear's relatively aggressive nature didn't truly serve to quell the fears, and so as My Dinosaur Life plays through for the first time, it's difficult to form a coherent opinion above the surprise. Simply put, Motion City Soundtrack's 4th LP feels like they've actually gathered their hyperactive, varied musical tendencies into an actual sound. It doesn't sound artificial; it doesn't sound like it's winking at you; it sounds like a real band.

And the thing is that the ingredients have always been there, they just needed to be harnessed: I Am The Movie's raw, pop-punk edge; Justin Pierre's unmistakable sugary vocal tone and clever lyrical stylings; Commit This To Memory's euphoric synths and cyclic melodies... the list just goes on. But where Even If It Kills Me drew lines through ideas to form an infuriatingly stretched-out circle, the band's second collaboration with Blink-182's Mark Hoppus reduces that scattered graph to a much more concise and lasting formula. Take opener 'Worker Bee' as a prime example; where two years ago the song would probably have maintained its initial medium tempo for a full 3 minutes, here drummer Tony Thaxton injects the pace necessary to match Pierre's desperate tone, all of which is fleshed out by catchy guitars and piano flurries. The centrepoint that is their upbeat, hook-laden pop-rock exists almost everywhere you look, manipulated creatively in terms of volume and velocity, and so although a track like 'Disappear' – relentless and almost heavy – sits at the opposite end of the spectrum to a gentle, up-tempo ballad like 'Stand Too Close', they still seem like two faces of the same group of musicians.

The production on My Dinosaur Life is the sort of thing that will make a pop-rock fan swoon; where Even If It Kills Me was overtly smooth, the band's new material is mixed in a way that gives it an accessible aesthetic without compromising the sincerity of the recordings. Stand-out 'Pulp Fiction's chorus boasts a cinematic, high-pitched guitar line which accompanies Pierre's ridiculously catchy narrow melody, so that as he sings 'the plot sucks but the killings are gorgeous' there is genuine depth to the musicianship. The record is one unashamedly (and deservedly) founded on its songwriting, but it also leaps out occasionally with an injection of impressive instrumentalism or, even more frequently, vocal brilliance, such as Pierre's octave jump at the end of 'History Lesson', which is both astounding and fitting at the same time.

My Dinosaur Life isn't a perfect album by any means, but it's a resounding success for a band whose fourth album couldn't afford to be anything less. It houses numerous tangents which expand on Motion City Soundtrack's back catalogue at the same time as consolidating their strengths and discarding the things that sometimes made them awkward or difficult to take serious. Sure, My Dinosaur Life remains an entirely fun experience, but it blends that trademark smirk with the necessary restraint and spark to produce a record which removes any doubt that Motion City Soundtrack are the masters of their own fate. It's an uncharacteristically consistent release from a band I once proclaimed would soon be declared the heavyweight champions of power-pop. Now might be a good time.



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user ratings (586)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jared Ponton EMERITUS (4)
"I always knew I had the answer, but I never understood the question."...

blindsided21 (4)
My Dinosaur Life is certainly a good record, and is arguably Motion City Soundtrack's best....

Nevin (4)
Motion City Soundtrack never fails to deliver....

Eric (2)
The fact that their giddy, upbeat temperament sounds so sincere is almost enough to forgive Motion C...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Knott-
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Happy 2010. Album rocks.



It's streaming at http://www.myspace.com/motioncitysoundtrack so it's easy to check out without much

hassle. Tracks I'd recommend are Worker Bee, Her Words Destroyed My Planet, Stand Too Close and Pulp

Fiction.

zachbredberg
January 16th 2010


86 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree. Such a great album. I could see this being one of my favorite of the year. Was scared I might hear another "Even if it Kills Me." That wasnt a BAD cd, but it was hit and miss. MDL is just full on great.



Great review

Ponton
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


6118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You must be a tired man.



No matter how hard I tried, I knew you would beat me. Well done. Pos.

Digging: Movements - Feel Something

Knott-
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, thanks, but it's hardly about beating you - this album put such a smile on my face after Even If It Kills Me and the fears I had for it that it would have been criminal not to put down my thoughts on it. I still think these guys are capable of better but if they keep putting out records as good as this I won't argue.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


6118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've read through your other reviews on these guys' past albums, so I understand what you're saying. I really like your style of writing by the way. The intro, the conclusion, the main body - great stuff and so wonderfully designed. How long does it take you to typically write a review? Just curious.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When I actually start writing it usually only takes me about half an hour, but sometimes I need to get my head round the album. This one was easy and I knew from the second listen what I wanted to say, it just took a while to find the start. I spend a disproportionate length of time on the first three sentences of my reviews.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


6118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I spend about a hour on mine when actually writing. I've started to form up paragraph ideas in my head before I think it's time to write recently, and that's helped a little bit. I want to work on my form and making/concluding points or ideas though. I guess that's where I have trouble.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 16th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's all about finding an angle



i'm always worried i'm going to run out of them, but it hasn't happened yet haha

FigNewtns
January 16th 2010


763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this release being good was a shock.

ThePalaceOfWisdom
January 17th 2010


1134 Comments


This album gets massive props for the Veronica Mars reference on Her Words Destroyed My Planet. Also the Dinosaur on the cover is super cute.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2010


21858 Comments


It looks like the dinosaur from those old commercials promoting kids to brush their teeth.

Digging: Grinning Death's Head - Blood War

ThePalaceOfWisdom
January 17th 2010


1134 Comments


Don't live in America so I've never seen it. But he has wings and a clubbed tail and a rhino horn. He's an ankylo-rhino-angelo-saurus-rex

bungy
January 17th 2010


8999 Comments


Holy shit catchy tunes.

thatoneguy726
January 17th 2010


1665 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely putting this onto my list...but that means it'll be at least a month before I get it.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2010


22453 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sensational review Strikey. You really have me looking forward to giving this a listen. Not that you need them anymore, but Pos.

Lucid
January 17th 2010


8589 Comments


This is so joyful, love it.

Knott-
Emeritus
January 17th 2010


10198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Davey! Massive dig at the moment and it's one of those pop-rock records I can see lasting for a hell of a long time. Loves it.

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 17th 2010


4462 Comments


perhaps I should check this out. It doesn't really seem like my kind of thing, but catchy is never a bad thing.

Waior
January 17th 2010


11630 Comments


Cool stuff, strikey; I heard half of Put This to Memory and was enticed enough... congratulations on the feature, review is impeccable.

I may listen. Probably won't. But let it be known that I said I would to appease you.

PanasonicYouth
January 17th 2010


7413 Comments


so this is CTTM good or wut?



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