Motion City Soundtrack: Go Review

Motion City Soundtrack has a knack for weaving imaginative and reflective narratives with clever and descriptive lyrics that draw listeners in and reveal both genuine sentiment and touches of humor, sometimes within the same song. While Go continues the evolution of MCS’ sound as seen in My Dinosaur Life, it’s difficult to tell if the band’s newest album is a step in the right direction. While it’s important for a band to develop their music and evolve from the catchy and more mainstream sound of Commit This To Memory and Even If It Kills Me to avoid producing identical content over and over again, Go is definitely a small departure from the lovable pop punk that made Motion City Soundtrack famous, moving into the more complex territory of alternative rock. Go is by no means a bad album; in fact, it is extremely enjoyable and some may prefer the new complexity of their music, despite the fact that it might take some time for fans to get accustomed to this slightly varied style. However, as marginally different as their latest album is, this is still the same high-quality alternative rock fans have come to expect from Motion City Soundtrack. Lead singer Justin Pierre still finds ways to amuse and strike an emotional chord at the same time with honest, quirky and endearing revelations that come to life through humorously brilliant lyrics, the moog synthesizer of Jesse Johnson and the smooth bass of Matthew Taylor are ever-present, and Tony Thaxton and Joshua Cain can still rock the drums and guitar (respectively) to give songs some extra flair. So while the recurring theme of death and loss certainly speak volumes to how much this band has grown since its inception, Go is still a fun and engaging album, which is nothing less than what fans have come to expect from Motion City Soundtrack.

Stand Out Tracks

“True Romance” is the catchiest song on the album hands down. Its infectious beat, pleasant synthesizers and upbeat guitars immediately draw the listener in while the chorus showcases Pierre’s incredible vocal pitch, a higher melodic range that he favors for a large portion of the album. This memorable single could fit in with any of the band’s older songs, as its simple and repetitive chorus makes for a great sing-along, the essence of Motion City Soundtrack’s music.

Despite its morbid central concept, “Everyone Will Die” actually turns into a very heartfelt and intelligent ballad that showcases Motion City Soundtrack’s ability to make accurate and emotionally revealing observations about the world around them and turn it into a striking song. Pierre bluntly states the obvious fact of life that death will take us all one day before flipping this depressing notion into the most important question of the album with the help of stirringly emotional strings and more high-pitched vocals: “Who you gonna love in the meantime before it catches you?”

“The Worst Is Yet To Come” is a fantastic example of what happens when Justin Pierre dominates a track with urgent and sincere vocals. The catchiness and the fun is still here, but Pierre has a certain edge to his vocals that lends to the song’s engaging yet enjoyable tone.  The backdrop of heavier and more aggressive guitars chugging, rhythmic bass and pounding drumming is reminiscent of I Am Movie, but the polish on the instruments, especially the ever-funky bass, meshes well with the customary synthesizers to create a heartfelt but serious song unlike the majority of the album’s lighter content. “The Worst Is Yet To Come” is undoubtedly the best song on the album as the perfect mix between catchy fun, impressive musicianship and the burning urgency behind intelligent songwriting.

The Verdict

For fans worried that Go completely changes MCS’ sound, fear not. While the group’s latest effort doesn’t eclipse the greatness of My Dinosaur Life or Commit This To Memory, it certainly differentiates itself from what could have been a repetitively poppy album, avoiding the unfortunate error some bands make after producing identical content over and over. Some fans may be discontent with a few selections such as “Son Of A Gun” or “Boxelder” because of their different sound and the new vocal style that goes with it, but for the most part, these changes are a welcome addition to the album for variety’s sake. Ranking this album fourth in Motion City Soundtrack’s discography makes it seem like it has little to offer, but in reality, Go is a solid entry in the band’s history and will satisfy anyone craving for a new dose. This is still the same Motion City Soundtrack that fans know and love; they’re just finding new ways of sharing their brilliant observations and storytelling about love and life. In a lot of ways, Motion City Soundtrack’s fifth LP is a hybrid of their past four albums; it doesn’t eclipse the raw, rock energy of I Am Movie, the catchy and poppy fun of Commit This To Memory, the revealing and masterful lyricism of Even If It Kills Me, or the overall perfect blend of My Dinosaur Life. Instead, it takes elements from each: “The Coma Kid” and “Bad Idea” are strikingly reminiscent of the band’s older material while songs like “Song Of A Gun,” “Boxelder” and the hauntingly powerful “Happy Anniversary” flip that format on its head. This blend creates a distinct style and makes for a unique album, and while it doesn’t redefine the band’s sound as flawlessly as My Dinosaur Life did, it encompasses the same lovable quirk and pleasant melodies to create another distinguished entry in Motion City Soundtrack’s discography.

Final Score: 8/10

Rank: 4th (five total albums)

Track List

  1. Circuits And Wires
  2. True Romance
  3. Son Of A Gun
  4. Timelines
  5. Everyone Will Die
  6. The Coma Kid
  7. Boxelder
  8. The Worst Is Yet To Come
  9. Bad Idea
  10. Happy Anniversary
  11. Floating Down The River

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