Motion City Soundtrack walks a tricky line. It plays pop that' at times so syrupy sweet that it comes dangerously close to alienating all music fans not into trends, boy bands and vocabularies that extends beyond repeated uses of "cute." Essentially MCS, like All American Rejects and New Found Glory, has found a surefire niche with the teenage-girl crowd. The music is upbeat, and melodies stay fresh forever, but their saving grace from doom and ridicule is talent and originality, and the true-grit punk edge that eludes most pop bands. If you're over the age of 16 and like a band like MCS, it may give you a tinge of guilt, but for the most part this is accomplished and original spunky, punky pop.
There is something innocent and fun about this record, but it's not a mass-marketed, get drunk and go wild, teen album. The band has matured past that point. There are no references to high school days on the entire disc. It's a lesson MCS learned while bands like Blink 182 failed to grasp it yet. MCS is aware that as edge toward 30 years old and still sing about the prom, you're just plain sad.
The moog and keyboard is heavy on I Am the Movie and it complements Joshua Cain's crooning vocals and hooky guitar work. From the first kick drum of "Cambridge," the album hits like an electric shock. Spastic kids will love the song, as it gives them an excuse to bob their heads and flail their limbs uncontrollably. Even the rest of us semi-coordinated types aren't safe from head-bobbing once "My Favorite Accident" hits. I Am The Movie combines much of the keyboard and guitar work that made The Cars famous and jolts it with manic punk energy that's upbeat and poppy. Motion City Soundtrack also flirts with minor-chord progressions on songs like "Boombox Generation" and "Red Dress," to keep things from being too pop. It also throws in a dash of anger in "Don't Call It a Comeback," but outside a lone rocker, this album is a feel good, roll down the windows and sing along record.
You're probably thinking this album's high studio values are hardly what you expect to come from Epitaph Records. It's an album at which Pennywise, Rancid and their ilk might scoff, but, unlike most of its label mates, it works for the band.
Unlike so many pop bands that clog the airwaves, Motion City Soundtrack never goes over the top into the uber-sappy quality of pop-emo. The band sings love songs some times, sure, but it never delves into the whiny ballad, which makes this record more endearing than any whiny song about unrequited love could ever be.