Nostalgia ain't what it used to be. These days, pop-punk anthems meant to evoke freshman memories of Jell-O-shot one-night stands only make me reminisce about the lesbians who watch Stiffler strip nude in the last American Pie film. Maybe that's because hits like Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle" and Blink-182's "Every Time I Look for You" were written specifically for those who never matriculated at Co-Ed Naked U. They're teenage anthems digested by wistful graduates and dropouts, meant to conjure the fantastical collegiate world you assume was populated by every dorm-room dweller but you.
Still, if Jimmy Eat World, then world bite back. You can already hear teeth-gnashing on Motion City Soundtrack's Epitaph debut, I Am the Movie, which sounds like these Twin Cities realists spent their underage weekends as the other half of us did--perpetually searching for an ultimately elusive party, then trying to convince their friends that they didn't want to go anyway. Yes, MCS sing of muscle cars and perfect teeth and other WB-endorsed themes, but their real subject matter is more "teen" than thongs above the waistline: the fear of not being able to relate to anyone. In the third (and best) track on the album, frontman Justin Pierre brays in an alternating falsetto/growl about a Velcro-clad diva who can't get with the times: "What's up with Will and Grace?/I don't get drum 'n' bass/The future freaks me out." This stuff is the future? As the geek-chic keyboards and ham-fisted g-g-g-guitars jump in to do high kicks in the background, you think that anyone who believes Debra Messing and Squarepusher are harbingers of a new age probably still attends Degrassi Junior High. But Pierre is the kind of guy who still references Crystal Light jingles and Night Court reruns, so maybe they can look forward to looking back together.
"I'm drowning in a bottle of wine..." he sings on the power ballad "Indoor Living" as the band drowns him in a bottle of Everclear. "Bring back the days that fell behind." Let the ecstatic crash of "My Favorite Accident" or the sci-fi rockfest of "Cambridge" swirl around in your brain, and you know exactly what he means. With 14 tracks of infectious soundtrack pop passing by in a mere 43 minutes' time, I Am the Movie goes by so quickly that you're bound to feel a little nostalgia yourself.
by Melissa Maerz