Review Summary: With Move Along, the Rejects avoid the common pitfalls of the sophomore slump, and create one of the catchiest pop-rock records of the last decade.
Sophomore albums are notorious for being a make or break moment in a band’s career. More often than not, the pressure of following up a successful debut with an equally successful follow-up can cause a crisis for a band. Second albums are often rushed, over produced, over thought, and rarely, if ever, live up to the expectations of the debut. While some bands bounce back from the sophomore slump later in their career, others are never able to match the success of their debut.
The All American Rejects had some big shoes to fill after their self-titled debut, which was a fairly straightforward affair: a pop-rock band writes some three chord songs about girls, swinging, and being sad. But, the Rejects avoided the rejection of Americans, by avoiding the common pitfalls that haunt many other bands in the genre, and, to put it bluntly, simply outdid their previous effort in almost every single way possible.
In all reality, Move Along is not one of the greatest albums of all time. In fact it’s not even close. But, it is a prime example of the pop-rock sound indicative of the last decade or so. Melodic vocals, abundant hooks, and simple guitar riffs have been, and still are, the key ingredients for a hit. All twelve tracks on this album capitalize on these traits, including the modern rock staples on this album: the irresistible, and downright catchy “Dirty Little Secret” and “Move Along.” Throw in a well placed power ballad or two: “It Ends Tonight” and its counterpart on the second half of the album “Straitjacket Feeling,” and you have got yourself a multi platinum album. At the end of their careers, barring some unforeseen miracle, this will be the album that the Rejects will be remembered for because of the high production values, and straightforwardness that the album consistently brings to the table.
The album avoids one of the most common pitfalls of ambitious second albums: no song ever overstays its welcome with an extended outro, or over the top guitar solo; the running time of all the songs range from three to four minutes. This album was well produced, polished and edited to make all of the songs as accessible as possible to mainstream pop-rock listeners.
That being said, lyrically is often times where the album falls short. “11:11 PM” gives us the bridge of: “I‘ll be fine/you‘ll be fine/is this fine"/I‘m not fine!”, and yet, it still packs a sense of urgency and energy that makes the listener generally concerned to find out if whatever “this” is, is really fine. I need not mention the chorus of the title track, which rings in with the chorus of “When all you got to keep it strong/move along, move along/like I know you do.” It just makes you want to scream: “I do! I got to keep it strong!”
When it comes right down to it, bassist and lead singer Tyson Ritter and company show off their ability to write above average pop-rock songs with gigantic hooks on this album. Even the above average filler songs (for example, two later tracks “Dance Inside” or “I’m Waiting”) utilize punchy guitar riffs, well done and clear-cut drums, and inject some emotion into radio-friendly tracks that you can sing along to just as well as any of the singles. Almost any of the twelve songs on the album could have been singles at the height of the Rejects popularity, and that fact is what makes this album spectacular in the end. Move Along is pure, seemingly non-stop, unadulterated fun that is just begging you to rock out.