Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life

Album cover
Pop, Rock
Columbia Records
Motion City Soundtrack
My Dinosaur Life
Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life Review rating:
4
User rating:
Average: 5 (1 vote)

We all know how major label debuts go. Your favorite band, after years of amassing a cult-like following on an independent label, has finally been called up to the big leagues. You’re excited that the band is finally getting the respect and success that it deserves. But you are also worried about how the band will change. Will it “sell out”? How will its sound change? The latest band facing this conundrum is Motion City Soundtrack. The Minneapolis power-pop purveyors have been ridiculously successful: three highly acclaimed studio albums, nine singles, and countless headlining tours. The time was right for MCS to leave Epitaph, deciding on Columbia to release its major debut, My Dinosaur Life. For those of you worried or curious about the band’s latest direction, it’s simply a case of good news and bad news. First, the good news: on My Dinosaur Life, MCS created a solid major debut while also retaining most of its unique characteristics and sensibilities. The bad news, however, is that it did not retain all of them.

From the opening line of the first track, “Worker Bee,” something already does not feel right. Frontman Justin Pierre sounds much cleaner. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but part of what separated Motion City Soundtrack from other bands in the scene was Pierre’s knack for complimenting his neurotic life in song form with frantic and frenzied vocal abandon. The cracks and yelps in his voice are gone along with the sincerity that accompanied them. And be on the lookout for synth-op Jesse Johnson on milk cartons because he is missing in action. Just like Pierre’s vocals, Johnson’s bouncy synth lines made MCS who it is. Johnson has either been pushed way into the background or disappeared completely.

Change is not all bad. Drummer Tony Thaxton (one of the most underrated drummers in the scene) is the most improved member of Motion City Soundtrack and showcases his knack for complex syncopation and creative drum fills throughout My Dinosaur Life. Guitarist Joshua Cain’s work is the most proficient of his career; his riffs, like Thaxton’s drumming, come into the forefront of this album. Same goes for bassist Matt Taylor.

One possible reason behind Motion City Soundtrack’s musical metamorphosis might be the production. Mark Hoppus (always an avid fan of MCS) produced the entire album. MCS’s last output, 2007’s Even If It Kills Me, featured two producers: Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger and The Cars’ Ric Ocasek. Schlesinger’s extensive background in power-pop and Ocasek’s new-wave genius blended well with MCS and the accompanying album proved as such. Hoppus’ pop-punk prowess has given MCS another avenue to travel upon. For example, Cain’s guitar riffs are simple and chug along while Taylor’s basslines are much slinkier (check out the solo in “Delirium;” it is pure Hoppus).

All that aside, the album is still a treat. Pierre further proves that he is the undisputed songwriting champion. While other lyricists are vague in an attempt to relate to their listeners, Pierre’s awkward, yet quirky lines are extremely detailed, which actually makes them more relatable (i.e. “I have apologized a billion times/When I’ve gone off the wall like Busta Rhymes/And pulled a stupid stunt that left you thinking there was something wrong with me” from “Stand Too Close”). “@!#[email protected]!” is unadulterated Weezer (something fans have grown accustomed to), but dare it be said that Motion City Soundtrack might be doing Weezer better than Weezer itself. “A Life Less Ordinary (Need A Little Help)” has a slight Jack’s Mannequin feel, complete with piano-driven verses, while “Skin And Bones” is the most honest track on the album and could be My Dinosaur Life’s “LGFUAD.” All 12 songs will get stuck in your head.

How listeners take to My Dinosaur Life will depend on how familiar they are with Motion City Soundtrack. New or casual fans will love the contagious melodies and the diverse arrangements. Conversely, die-hard followers will be shocked at first, but the album will eventually grow on them. What is known, however, is that My Dinosaur Life is one of the most anticipated albums of the year and will become the most analyzed offering of 2010.

1. Worker Bee
2. A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)
3. Her Words Destroyed My Planet
4. Disappear
5. Delirium
6. History Lesson
7. Stand Too Close
8. Pulp Fiction
9. @!#[email protected]!
10. Hysteria
11. Skin and Bones
12. The Weakends

Motion City Soundtrack is a pop-punk band which includes members Joshua Cain (guitar), Tony Thaxton (drums), Justin Pierre (vocals/guitar), Jesse Johnson (Moog), and Matthew Taylor (bass). Following their high-school graduation, Minneapolis, MN natives Pierre and Cain -- both of whom were inspired by Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbox, The Flaming Lips, and Superchunk -- formed the band in 1999. The pair assembled a temporary lineup and issued a self-released 7" that same year. ... read more

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