Monday, November 5, 2012

Album Review: Motion City Soundtrack - Making Moves

Album Rating: A-
On a list of the bigger disappointments of 2012, you will probably find Motion City Soundtrack's latest album Go among the names. After the excellent 2010 record My Dinosaur Life expectations for Go were sky high, but even while there were gems such as "Circuits and Wires," "Happy Anniversary" and "Floating Down The River," the weaknesses outmatched the strengths and led to a very incohesive and unspectacular record. Luckily, Motion City Soundtrack is releasing a new 7" record as part of the band's Making Moves series, and the batch of songs recorded for this 7" immediately stand out as better than a large majority of Go, and is a fantastic cushion for the disappointing blow received back in July.

These definitely weren't b-sides for Go, as there's quite a different feel to these tracks and wouldn't fit on the album at all. The songs on Go were produced in a far "lighter" way that gives them a poppier feel, but that lightheartedness is lost on Making Moves. But it actually strengthens the songs, as this collection of tracks may be Motion City Soundtrack's most mature group of tracks and sounds like what a follow up to My Dinosaur Life might have been. Even the lone upbeat track on the 7", "Major Leagues" is far less airy and actually has some force behind it, and the verses contain some of the best guitar work that the band has ever done. The poppy chorus is pure Motion City Soundtrack, containing a classic sounding hook along with synth that is far more subtle than the band's earlier material but still carries the same effect, if not improving it. The track should fit in perfectly to the band's live set and should be a crowd pleaser to even the band's older fans.

However, the band does even better on the two slower, more out-of-the-box tracks. The intro segment of "Severance" has been around since before Go was even announced, and was a huge reason for the massive hype of Go. Hearing the whole song is a relief, as it's absolutely one of the best songs the band has put out to date, as well as one of their most unique. The guitar riffs are covered with reverb and the backing vocals come in and out just as if they're used as an instrument and not just for harmonies and vocal support. The verses are also rhythmically complex compared to other Motion City Soundtrack songs, and it's nice to hear the band move fairly far out of their comfort zone and still put together a fantastic song. The slower track is a cover of indie rock band Rilo Kiley's "Pictures Of Success," an odd choice for a cover that Motion City Soundtrack ends up nailing. It's not so much a reinterpretation of the song as it is proof of the band's ability to go off in new directions, and ends up fitting in perfectly with the other two tracks. Vocalist Justin Pierre's voice is superb, sounding comfortable even though he's covering a female voice, and even puts some of Jenny Lewis's parts to shame such as when he adds the additional accent in the phrase "I've had it with you and Mexico can fucking wait." It's a fantastic cover that allows the band to showcase their indie rock backgrounds without fear of isolating themselves from their pop punk origins.

Making Moves is a whole other monster from Go, and it is curious why the two groups of songs happen to be so different. Go and Making Moves were obviously recorded in different studios with different people working it, but the songs were still written at about the same time period by the same band. These songs definitely feel like a test for Motion City Soundtrack to see how they would be received by their extremely devoted fanbase. Let's just hope that this is the case and their future direction expands on this new ground broken by Making Moves and not the safe and stagnant tracks of Go.

Order The 7" Here.

Track List:
1. Severance
2. Major Leagues
3. Pictures Of Success (Digital Only Bonus Track)

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