Review Summary: An effort to be proud of, but not an instant classic.
After the polished but still unmistakably MCS sound of "My Dinosaur Life", a 5th studio album was always going to be a hard task to get right. With "Go", Motion City Soundtrack almost get it right. Almost.
'Circuits and Wires' is an uplifting opener, with pounding drums and a bouncing refrain setting a high standard for the rest of the record, albeit without much in the way of complex arrangement. Similarly, 'True Romance' starts with upbeat potential, but the choruses don't quite stick like they should. Far from the standout track, it's no surprise that 'True Romance' missed the charts and barely showed up as "Go's" lead single.
Nevertheless, "Go" shows us a glistening sombre side of Motion City that had only briefly been seen in "Dinosaur Life" ('Stand Too Close') and "Commit This To Memory" ('Hold Me Down') but forms their fifth offering's strength. 'Timelines' is a gorgeous autobiography filled with brutal honesty ("I stuttered 'til the age of twelve/discovered sex at 17/and soon thereafter self-esteem") and distinct familiarity. The vocal delivery is spot-on and the crescendo bridge perfectly executed. "Everyone Will Die" is another ballad of high quality both lyrically and instrumentally, from strings to cathedral-hall drums which combine to create a spacious mood and an album highlight.
Amongst the bounce and ballad are some darker moments that sound like Motion City are trying slightly too hard to be taken seriously and end up feeling out of place. 'Happy Anniversary' seems like a filler, and never rises to any great height. 'The Worst Is Yet To Come' is too heavy for Justin and Co., and exposes the fact that Motion City truly are a power-pop band. 'Boxelder' is novel in its unusual time signatures and falsetto hooks, and is enjoyable on a simplistic level but isn't what MCS fans want to hear from the band's 5th effort.
Though, some moments are unmistakably Motion City Soundtrack. 'Bad Idea' is the album's best moment, and is as radio-friendly, relatable and accessible as anything Motion City have ever done. 'Coma Kid' is a fun song with typically Pierre lyrics about 'needing time to get it right'. Parts of "Go" return to MCS's pop-punk roots, but seem to have matured into gems of the genre that will further endear the band to their fans.
Overall, Motion City Soundtrack deliver a satisfactory 5th effort, albeit one that lacks continuity or cohesiveness in terms of sound. It's fragmented and almost genre-hops, but it's definitely worth repeated listens.
'Circuits and Wires'
'Floating Down the River'