Motion City Soundtrack slows tempo, not creativity

"Even if it Kills Me" released Sept. 18

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Motion City Soundtrack Even if it Kills Me By Jon Bautts Word Count: 464

Motion City Soundtrack returns with another dose of their patented style of pop punk. Fueled by the quirky yet deeply personal lyrics from frontman Justin Pierre and a penchant for crafting addicting melodies, the band’s third album has them poised on the brink of something big.

Opener “Fell in Love Without You” immediately gets things going, exuding a spirited liveliness. Led by Jesse Johnson’s playful synths, it is destined to be a fan favorite. Right on its heels is official first single “This is for Real,” which demonstrates the band’s knack for monster choruses with one bound sure to make its home in your head. “It had to be You” showcases Pierre’s offbeat delivery in the verses while delivering another memorable chorus. “Last Night,” a ballad in the vein of “Hold Me Down,” is more evident of the band’s versatility. Backed by a piano riff and strong lyrics, it is one of the album’s highlights.

Up next is one of the record’s weaker songs, “Calling All Cops.” However, despite missing an energetic hook, it still manages to entertain, mainly thanks to Pierre. “Can’t Finish What You Started” contains a fun guitar riff, with percussion on the verses and a strong outro that allow it to stand out. With the next track, “The Conversation,” the band shows they’re capable of slowing things down, turning in a heartfelt piano ballad. Afterward, the hook-filled “Broken Heart,” another standout song, picks things up again. Following is “Hello Helicopter,” which provides a nice change of pace as it opens with a piano and includes an acoustic guitar on the verses.

Although “Where I Belong” is another mid-tempo song, it shows flair and creativity, which let it succeed. “Point of Extinction” is a little more on the upbeat side, though it could have benefited from a stronger hook. “Antonia,” which builds up to a somewhat disappointing chorus, is redeemed by Pierre’s witty lyrics. Finally, the album comes to a close with the title track, featuring an interesting twang from Pierre’s vocals. It finishes things off on a satisfactory note, especially with the last line, but it seemed the rest of the song could have been a little stronger, and perhaps opting for more of an epic feel would have helped.

Even if it Kills Me is MCS’s slowest and softest record yet, coming across as a fairly natural progression after Commit This to Memory, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it could have benefited from some additional up-tempo numbers or bounciness like they had in “Everything is Alright,” it still possesses hooks aplenty, and is one of the best pop punk releases of the year. In the end, MCS put together another solid outing, which is sure to please the old fans while winning over a batch of new ones.