Review Summary: Let's give it up for the New Year
It’s been probably five years since I took the time to celebrate during the holiday season. I’m not going to pretend that I live some sort of hard life where my family is scraping by to put presents under the tree because that’s far from the truth; I instead choose to use this as a time of introspection. I rarely make New Years’ Resolutions, but I always take the time to look back on the person that I’ve become over the past year and evaluate the changes I’ve made, and if it has been a positive alteration of character. In the past two years I have become increasingly discontented with this person. Although I’ve become one of the most popular kids at school, I yearn for the days when I was a consistently nice, naïve middle-schooler who dreamed of being able to fit his way into the conversation circle during lunch.
So why does this matter? It doesn’t, but it also gives me an excuse to listen to pop-punk again. Ever since I was that kid on the fringe, pop-punk has been my rock. My inability to decipher metaphors makes the genre important to me mostly because of its accessibility. Everything is easily communicated on a first listen, and none of the emotions concealed well enough for me to miss.
For these reasons, Motion City Soundtrack jumped out at me this week for the first time in a couple of years. I was having some familial issues and, for whatever reason, the opening drum beat to “Everything is Alright” permeated my mind’s ear. It seemed like a fittingly ironic song to listen to, and I instantly became entranced the way I had been back in 7th grade, when I first heard it. Lead singer Justin Pierre’s voice immediately grabbed me and, despite the primitive music, entranced me. By the time Patrick Stump’s vocals kicked in on the bridge, I was hooked. Although no part of the band is worthy of special commendation- especially the entirely underutilized Moog synthesizer- there was something irresistible about the perfect aural blend and Pierre’s cloying lyrics.
It’s no wonder that “Everything is Alright” was chosen as the lead single, because it encompasses the album in a mere 216 seconds. Commit This to Memory is constantly buoyed by Pierre’s lyrics that waver on too immature and his vocals that seem to comprise a mere two octaves. However, there is a certain beauty in the simplicity of the instruments. Motion City Soundtrack certainly isn’t trying to compose a masterpiece with this album- they’re just trying to communicate feelings in the most direct way possible. This is why Commit This to Memory is a great success: the transparency. The guitars don’t hide behind waves of distortion and the drums don’t utilize ultra-technical fills, they’re just there to support Justin Pierre’s sermons.
Personal attachment and all other things aside- this is a great record. It has every element that a pop-punk fan could ask for, and probably some that are rather unexpected. The songs are direct and engaging, the lyrics are relatable, and Mark Hoppus’ production is superb. It seems strange that a band that seems so strong in its message would be the one idolized by a kid in the background, hoping that somebody will laugh at his jokes, but maybe that’s why this is a special record. Maybe there’s hope to be seen; maybe that’s why “Everything is Alright” was committed to my memory; maybe that’s why next year, I’ll be changing for the positive.