Review Summary: The Rejects move along with another LP that will bleed into your mind.
Since it may save many readers some time, let’s get one thing straight from the get-go: ‘When The World Comes Down’ was by no means a bad record. Significantly less accessible than its 2 predecessors, The All-American Rejects’ third LP was a deceptively catchy grower; a concept many could not equate to the Oklahoman quartet, resulting in a critical backlash of sorts. The outfit were even mentioned amongst a number of acts bringing about the downfall of pop-punk, which is akin to suggesting that a twenty-three year old can give teenagers a bad name, since the band have arguably not partaken in the genre since their shoddily produced Blink 182 aping debut release. Those looking for a return to such youthful exuberance will be sorely disappointed, with fourth LP ‘Kids in the Street’ forsaking the seemingly effortless hooks of the groups earlier releases and continuing down a path toward respectable maturity.
In comparison to ‘When The World Comes Down’, this release is even less immediate, with its most striking feature being a newfound low-key and subdued approach to song-writing. This again makes tracks such as ‘Fast & Slow’ and the aptly titled ‘Bleed Into Your Mind’ deceptively – if not instantly – catchy, requiring further listens to fully appreciate their subtleties. As the rather bland ‘Out the Door’ and folky acoustic closer ‘I For You’ suggest, not everything works, but this album is an admirable effort to distinguish themselves, with even comparatively straight-forward songs such as synth-heavy ballad ‘Heartbeat Slowing Down’ containing some interesting flair. Furthermore, while the words “restraint” and “All-American Rejects” have previously never been used in the same sentence, they deserve to here when a track like ‘Gonzo’ builds up so impressively. Ditto for ‘Affection’, although its arguable self-indulgence will prove more polarizing, as its sweet orchestral arrangement gives way to a crescendo exhibiting ‘Black Parade’ like bombast.
As ‘Gives You Hell’ confirmed, The All-American Rejects are at their best when tunes contain a quirky, playful edge. The horns, “La Di Da’s” and guitar solo of ‘Beekeeper’s Daughter’ displays such an attitude, as does the infectious glam stomp of ‘Walk Over Me’, which perfectly suits charismatic lead vocalist Tyson Ritter. Beginning his career frequently off pitch, Ritter has progressed to the point that his laconic snarl provides beguiling character. Unfortunately, cringe-worthy lyrics still exist ("You're a pretty little flower, I'm a busy little bee. Honey, that's all you need to see") and he is often singing about the same relationship problems which the band has mined their entire career. Yet, there is some lyrical improvement evident, with the topic being extended to reveal a cohesive theme of mature reflection… A fact most notable on the title track, which is the closest the quartet will ever come to echoing Springsteen! “Remember when we used to laugh, we used to cry. Live and die by the forty-five?” Will the band’s core fan-base even know what they are referring to here?
Yes folks, The All-American Rejects have indeed moved along. The closest thing to pop-punk on ‘Kids in the Street’ is the clichéd bridge lyric of “I f*cking hate this town, I wanna burn it down” on ‘Heartbeat Slowing Down’… and even that is delivered in atypical fashion. With many tracks including elements of 80s new-wave electronica being blended with live instrumentation, the band’s influences are no longer All Time Low, Fall Out Boy and the like, but verge closer to the style of acts such as Jimmy Eat World and Weezer. Where the quartet do over-step their limitations is by not keeping one foot in the arena door, so to speak. Ambition is great, but when a few too many hooks fall as flat as they do here, then there has to be something to fall back on. Maybe too much of the surprise factor was used up on its predecessor, or maybe a handful of songs are simply beyond the band's capabilities. It's difficult to pinpoint, but ultimately 'Kids in the Street' will go down as a solid album that is an ambitious and interesting grower... Nothing more, nothing less.
Recommended Tracks: Walk Over Me, Beekeeper's Daughter & Kids in the Street.
A surprisingly tricky album to rate. Like its predecessor, it sounds pretty ordinary on 1st listen... Plus, you almost have to trick yourself into believing that you aren't listening to The All-American Rejects!
How can I put this? People that dislike the band will actually be impressed with many components of this album. Whether they admit it or not is another matter.
And I wouldn't at all judge this album on 30 second samples, since on more than half of the songs, they use slow builds & the like. I know, I know, it's tough to believe such a thing with AAR, but it's true. :-0
I'm actually really keen to know what Knott thinks of this, as his thoughts re: 'WtWCD' were similar to mine.
Unsure what he means re: "going insane", other than simply not being them on 3/4 of the songs. The thing is, while that's both admirable & interesting, the results are mixed imo.
The review initially gave off a 3.5 vibe (I have edited in a few more negatives) & while I did think about that rating (mainly because of the growth they show here), I ultimately had to judge it individually.
I know deep down that you hate me anyway Adam... 'Move Along' is their best imo, mainly because of its highlights & relative consistency. Technically, I'd never lost hope in them, but I do sort of know what you mean. I'm unsure telling anyone to judge the LP on 'Out the Door' is the best thing to do... Since I found that track rather boring.
Exactly ip... A good powerpop album that's a 3 rating. I can't disagree at all.
Jimmy Eat World Invented
Taking Back Sunday New Again
Weezer The Blue Album
The Academy Is... Santi
The All-American Rejects When the World Comes Down
The Starting Line Based on a True Story
Yellowcard When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
Ok Go Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
Dashboard Confessional Alter The Ending
The All-American Rejects Move Along"