Review Summary: A punkier and odder Justin Pierre has appeared...
Larger bands tend to get pigeonholed into their own sound, and are frowned upon when they feel like experimenting with different genres and techniques. Side projects are one method of getting out from behind expectations and finally having some fun making something outside the norm. Motion City Soundtrack's Justin Pierre has been involved with Farewell Continental for a couple of years now without his name mentioned, but ¡Hey, Hey Pioneers! is the band's first release where his name is officially mentioned. ¡Hey, Hey Pioneers! all but removes the glossy, smooth sound of Motion City Soundtrack's latest albums, while adding female vocals (Kari Gray), distortion, and a punky edge that has not been seen in Justin Pierre since the days of I Am The Movie.
The weirdness does not show up until later in the album, as opening tracks "Seasoned Veterans" and "Capybara" share similarities to different periods in Motion City Soundtrack's career. "Seasoned Veterans" could fit nearly any place in the band's discography, while the verses of "Capybara" fit perfectly next to "The Future Freaks Me Out" off of I Am The Movie. But the band's experimentation begins midway through "Capybara", as strange sounding bass lines and even video game sounds are used in the choruses. The extremely upbeat and punky "Who's The Boss" is shorter than all but one Motion City Soundtrack song, and pummels harder than any track Pierre has been involved with.
"The Greatest Of All Time" is one of the best examples of the cohesion between Pierre and Gray, as their vocals flow seamlessly into each other in beautiful harmonies. The instrumentals however aren't as cohesive, as the staticky chorus and smooth, relaxing verses are almost total opposites of each other stylistically. But that juxtaposition fits in with the way that Farewell Continental simply plays whatever the *** they want. And the next two tracks prove this even further, as Pierre edits his vocals either through effects or by simply singing much differently than he has ever done in the past. "Dagger, Dagger: Terror, Terror" sounds almost as if Ben Gibbard decided to devote guest vocals to the track. Though the effect is jarring at first, it soon fits into the song perfectly. But Pierre's attempts at lowering the pitch of his singing voice in "A Story From The Bottom Of The Sea" fail, as the grimy tone of the vocals just doesn't work.
While "Immolated" simply seems like a rehash of "Capybara", the weirdness keeps on coming. "New Tile Floor" steals the electronic drum rhythms of a stereotypical top 40 track to create the song most fit for a party on the record. As bad as that seems, the song is actually one of the stronger ones on the record. "Radio, Radio: Are You Getting This?" has probably the strongest chorus on the record, combining the catchiest hook with the irony of the lyrics "Radio, radio are you getting this loud and clearly now" (there is plenty of distortion throughout the entire chorus). Sounds of laser beams and a "Pour Some Sugar On Me" like chorus are staples of the rocking "The Explorer Settles Down", while "Mad Operator" brings back the laser beams and plenty of other odd noises.
But as the record gets into the twelfth track, Farewell Continental seems to be running out of steam. This may be because of the sheer number of tracks, or simply the band has made those first eleven tracks seem even longer than they are with the amount of sounds placed within. But this cluster*** of an album isn't meant to be a beautiful, cohesive work of art. Several friends have gotten together and created the music that they want to, while having a ton of fun. And that's what makes this record stand out from the huge mass of albums released this year. Why should us as listeners want anything else from this?