Review Summary: Falling just short of the band's highest standards, but with all the charm and hooks you'd expect.
As I start writing this review, "Happy Anniversary" - Go
's penultimate track - has just kicked into its pretty sinister chorus, and it's striking me that we need to stop calling Motion City Soundtrack "that one pop-punk band that's really fun with all the synths and lyrics about video games." Justin Pierre and company are best known for 2005's superb Commit This To Memory
(although My Dinosaur Life
gives that record a run for its money), but there's more to this Minnesota quintet than people would have you believe. Go
marks another subtle shift in sound, abandoning the more aggressive nature of its pre-decessor and opting in its stead for a lighter aesthetic which still (obviously) sounds exactly like fucking summer, even if it takes a little longer to bed in.
So there are more bouncy tracks here than breakneck ones, however much the chorus of "The Worst Is Yet To Come" would love to argue. But if Go
shares strands with one of the band's previous albums more than others, Even If It Kills Me
will nevertheless be watching on in considerable envy at the way "Timelines" moves through quickfire lyrical soundbites to the most solid of hooks, and the wispy texture of next track "Everyone Will Die" is even more impressive. In fact, Go
sparks in its second half with some gusto. "Boxelder" is a song I feel I should find annoying but really, really don't; the aforementioned "Happy Anniversary" is the most tangibly atmospheric thing the band have ever put to record; and last song "Floating Down The River" continues their knack for excellent closers with aplomb.
If there's a flaw, it's that Go
doesn't seem to possess a distinct identity as a whole. Where the band have moved from hyperactive pop-rockers through almost-pop to the rock of My Dinosaur Life
, their fifth studio release is more of a collection of songs than a cohesive entity. And some of those songs fall somewhat flat - opener "Circuits And Wires" struggles for a climax, and "Bad Idea" suffers from repetition which works perfectly well elsewhere. When they're offset by cuts like "Happy Anniversary", though, it's nothing irredeemable. It's another set of witty, catchy, interesting songs from a band fast becoming champions of their genre. For what it's worth to speculate, it sounds like Motion City Soundtrack are warming up for an absolute classic. This isn't it - but it'll serve just fine in the meantime.