Motion City Soundtrack Retrospective

Usually, calling a band “immature” is a bad thing. This usually comes when an artist or band doesn’t branch out from their normal sound or material in which they record. Some bands mature in a drastic new direction (Linkin Park, for example) while others tend to stay in their comfort zone (All Time Low). However, there is something about Minnesotan po-punk band Motion City Soundtrack. MCS’s sound has stayed in a very geeky style of pop music, mixing loud guitars with synthesizers and lyrics that reference everything from Will And Grace, Ben Folds Five, and The Legend of Zelda, among others. The thing about Motion City is that, although their sound hasn’t changed much since their debut in 2003, each album sounds refreshing. This is why Motion City Soundtrack is one of my favorite bands. Period. They might not evolve or mature, but they truly refine their music, giving new fans a great introduction, while still being able to please their devoted fanbase.

Now, the band is working on their 5th studio album, and is on their “4 Albums. 2 Nights. 7 Cities. Tour,” so to give new fans a taste of what to expect (and for me a taste of what I’m going to miss), I have put together four mini-reviews, plus a list of songs that MCS fans should have.

I Am The Movie (2003)

I Am The Movie is Motion City Soundtrack’s first(and ironically, the last one I bought) album. The Movie set down the groundwork for what MCS is really about; pop-punk-synthy fun. Their one single that stands out the most is “The Future Freaks Me Out.” It is one of the catchiest songs to come out of the past decade that no one listened to. The intro alone (“I’m on fire/And now I think I’m ready to bust a move/Shake it out, I’m walking steady) helps solidify the off-the-wall nature, which is how the band still acts today. Some other tracks like “My Favorite Accident” and “Perfect Teeth” stand out, but nothing quite compares to their lead single. Still a very good album though.

Final Grade: B+

Go Download: “The Future Freaks Me Out”

Commit This To Memory (2005)

Commit This To Memory was Motion City Soundtracks breakout album in the alternative community, and arguably their best album yet. “Everything is Alright” is a hypochondriac’s theme song; as frontman Justin Pierre sings the things he does when he’s nervous, and how he’s sick of the pills that he has to use. My personal favorite is “L.G. Fuad” or “Let’s Get F#%&$d Up And Die,” which sounds like a pessimists journal entry. The song includes a small wish to win one day, but would just rather die. Commit also take a break from the fast-paced geek punk, to moderately slower pop songs. The two New Year’s themed songs, “Resolution” and “Together, We’ll Ring In the New Year” are great breaks from the usual MCS. The final song, the beautiful break-up ballad “Hold Me Down” is the best example of, not only Pierre’s Lyrical prowess, but the bands flexibility of emotions.

Final Grade: A

Go Download: “Everything Is Alright,” “L.G. Fuad,” “Hold Me Down”

Even If It Kills Me (2007)
A lot of people have dismissed Even If It Kills Me Motion City Soundtrack’s worst outing yet, claiming that it was just too much of the same. Truthfully, I do agree, though I wouldn’t say the album is bad at all. The stand out track “If It Was You” is a pop gem, while “The Conversation” is a depressing Ben Folds-esque piano ballad, which grips listeners at the heart. Other than those two, the rest of the album is a bit forgettable. But after multiple listenings, you will get to love more and more songs.

Final Grade: B-

Go Download: “If It Was You”

My Dinosaur Life (2010)

Remember when I wrote earlier about how Commit This To Memory was their best album? Well, in my opinion, My Dinosaur Life is miles ahead of anything that they’ve done so far. In fact, I picked My Dinosaur Life as my favorite album in 2010. MCS’s fourth studio album has some incredible moments throughout, including the opening lyrics from “Worker Bee,” and the hardest rocking song in the entire MCS library, “Disappear.” The best song on the album is, in my opinion,
“Pulp Fiction,” a song that bounces off of every pop culture wall imaginable, including slasher films, Miami Vice, and Inspector Gadget. Unlike their last two releases, there aren’t a lot of slow songs on the album (“Stand Too Close” is as soft as it gets.) That doesn’t hurt the album at all, as it is still incredibly enjoyable.

Final Grade: A+

Go Download: The Entire Album

There you go! To anyone who is actually seeing the concert, hope you love it, and I also secretly hate you. Enjoy!

The Future Freaks Me Out

4 thoughts on “Motion City Soundtrack Retrospective

  1. Goodness you and I seem to have a lot in common band wise, but never really album wise. Silly you.

    I actually only have one song off of I Am The Movie, but every other album seems to come with a plethora of personal goodies. Except for My Dinosaur Life. Other than “Stand to Close” I really haven’t had any pull towards listening to the overall CD again. Here are the rest of my personal favs:

    Even If It Kills Me: “Broken Heart” “Antonia” “Point of Extinction” “Fell in love without you (acoustic)” “Even if it kills me” “Last night” “Hello helicopter” “The Conversation”

    Commit This To Memory: “Feel like rain” “Hold me down”

    Sound of Superman: “The Worst Part…”

    Almost Alice: “Always running out of time”

    So yeah, your lowest rated is my highest rated. Clearly you be straight trippin foo.

  2. woah there, we all have differences of opinion lol. It seems like every MCS fan has their CD, Dinosaur is mine, and Kills Me is yours. I did forget about Antonia off of Kills Me, that’s another one of my favorite. And you do like the slow jams, which Dinosaur doesn’t have a whole lot of. Regardless, Motion City Soundtrack is still one of the best bands out there, agreed?

  3. Lol… I love how you always seem to think I am attacking you, which is far from the case. I can agree with what you said completely and I do tend to lean towards the slower stuff which is a main reason why we disagree on song choice it seems, but like you said, they are an amazing band.

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