It's been a good year, a good new beginning. I'm through with the old school, so let's commence the winning, says Justin Pierre, lead singer of Motion City Soundtrack, on the opening seconds of Worker Bee, the first track on the band's new album, My Dinosaur Life, which drops this week. It's a fitting opening stanza for the album, which finds the band at the absolute top of their game. This album, their fourth full-length, is filled with the band's customary infectious guitar-driven synth pop, although this time around it's considerably less synth-focused. A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help) is next, and is one of the album's catchiest songs, with a considerably poppy radio-friendly vibe to its chorus. Mark Hoppus produced the record, so that's really no surprise.
Her Words Destroyed My Planet is up next, and was one of the songs released prior to the album. While I don't like it as much as I do Lifeless Ordinary or the next track Disappear, it's still a solid cut, with a nice bouncy rhythm and lyrics about the ups and downs of relationships.
Disappear is more harder-edged than the previous few songs, and finds the band sounding a bit angry, with Pierre snarling the lyrics along a driving rhythm that is decidedly less shimmery and poppy than the others. I like it for that reason, it's a bit edgier than the other songs, and almost sounds like it could have been written in the mid 1990's, another reason I'm drawn to it so much.
One thing that has made Motion City Soundtrack stand out thus far in their career is the combination of quirky lyrics, infectious melodies and keyboards. My Dinosaur Life doesn't really rely as much on the keyboards as Commit this to Memory or Even if it Kills Me, but it still manages to be a near-perfect album anyway.
The keyboards make their first appearance on Delirium, which starts with a percussive bass riff and Pierre's voice. The synth then crashes in until the next verse, returning on the chorus where Pierre sings about pharmaceuticals. It's a highlight of the album, the requisite marriage of driving melodies and keyboard squeaks that has defined the Motion City sound for quite some time.
This is the band's major-label debut, having been picked up by Columbia Records following 2007's Epitaph release Even If It Kills Me. As a result, My Dinosaur Life is as polished as you'd expect.
History Lesson begins with an acoustic teaser, before going back into typical MCS territory, but with a more sing-along chorus than usual. It's sure to be a crowd favorite. Stand Too Close again uses acoustic guitars and a more subdued overall sound, a good song for the middle of the album.
The keys are back on Pulp Fiction, which is one of the best songs on the album. Pierre does the 'singing fast during the verses and chorus' thing that he's done so well, including the chorus of It's like a bad dream something from the back of a magazine black and white and cheaply put together, like a slasher film, I'm torn in opposite directions, the plot sucks but the killings are gorgeous. I don't know what he's talking about but that line is badass, and has been in my head for a while already. The song is a perfect culmination of the MCS sound: great guitar lines, catchy synth, and creative vocals. It rocks.
Hysteria has more synth and hand-claps, as the band doesn't bother slowing things down with a ballad. That's for the better, as MCS is at their best at full-throttle. The Weakends closes the record, and while it is a bit slower than the rest it still retains some of the energy exerted on the rest of the album.
A distinguished colleague of mine remarked that the album art for My Dinosaur Life was "the worst art ever" or something close to that, but I disagree. A picture of a cartoon dinosaur is fun. Motion City Soundtrack is very fun, and thus it's a fitting cover for this album. I'm not sure what they mean by the album's title, but I don't really care. It's good enough to make me overlook any silly titles. While I've enjoyed most of the band's other albums, I haven't enjoyed a FULL album of theirs as much as I have now with My Dinosaur Life.
Motion City Soundtrack has really raised their game with this new album, and they're poised to break out in a big way. I wasn't expecting the album to be as good as it is, but I'm very impressed. Fantastic way to start 2010, guys.