Review Summary: A heartbreaking masterpiece.
Every once in a while, a band comes along which completely shatters your expectations for both that band, and an entire genre of music. When your metalhead friend told you to check out this 'awesome new death metal band' Opeth, weren't you blown away when you finally gave Blackwater Park
a listen? Or when you stumbled across a 5-star review for As The Roots Undo
, and expecting an awful Hawthorne Heights soundalike, you discovered how incredible real
emo music is. Well, Motion City Soundtrack are one of those bands. It's so easy to lump them in with the Fueled By Ramen group of modern pop-punk bands. And while their peers are not necessarily bad, they certainly lack anything redeeming or special. This is, however, distinctly untrue of Motion City Soundtrack, and with Commit This To Memory
, they have created an absolute masterpiece.
Opening with possibly the funnest song of their career, "Attractive Today" showcases the band's remarkable energy and talent for emotion-infused pop hooks, while still feeling brutally sincere. Justin Pierre's incredible lyrical prowess (one of the high points of the album) is immediately evident, as he spews lines such as "I am wrecked, I am overblown. I'm also fed up with the ***ing common cold!" and "I just want to feel alive for the first time in my life" which would sound annoying and contrived coming from anyone else, but instead feel visceral and honest in their context.
And the album continues in this way, with power-pop synths and massive infection hooks, combined with brutal emotion and shockingly honest lyrics. The catchiness of "Everything Is Alright" and "Resolution" downplay the sarcasm and power behind the lyrics, and tracks like "L.G.FUAD" and "Together We'll Ring In The New Year" hit home like nothing else can, with absolutely heartbreaking melodies and themes of addiction and loneliness.
And that's really the best descriptor for this album: no other pop-punk album manages to cram in this much pure, unadulterated heartbreak and loneliness
in among the fun tunes as this one does. One listen to album centerpiece "L.G.FUAD" proves this--its innately enjoyable melody and hook of "Let's get ***ed up and die!" betray how haunting and utterly devastating the song truly is. When Motion City Soundtrack are high (as in songs such as "Time Turned Fragile" and "Better Open The Door"), they are unbelievably fun, throwing in bouncy, infectious melodies in with almost silly synth lines and downright jaw-dropping drumming. But the band truly shines when they strip everything down to its simplest form, as seen in album closer "Hold Me Down."
Ending the album with possibly the greatest song of the band's entire career, "Hold Me Down" takes a simple, barely-present drum part and subtle guitars and manages to break your heart with it. There is no false veneer of happiness and fun (as there is on almost the entire rest of Commit This To Memory
) but instead there is simple, straightforward tragedy. When Justin Pierre brings the band down to their quietest to reveal his inner workings--"I love you, however...you hold me down"--it is absolutely gut wrenching. The strength of this song alone should earn the album far more respect than it receives, and the rest of the album backs it up with remarkable strength.
So go out and pick up Motion City Soundtrack's second record. You won't regret it. There is no mood it can't fit, be it the anger of "When 'You're' Around," the pure fun of "Make Out Kids," or the utter devastation of "Hold Me Down," there is not a second of this album which is not worth listening to.