Motion City Soundtrack

Commit This to Memory

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Like the also-underrated Ultimate Fakebook, Motion City Soundtrack's buoyant sound is informed by their slight age gap from the average pogoing kid. Both bands are eager to find pop-punk's widest point across, a place that includes not only Superchunk and Sunny Day, but classic rock fervor and real vocal melody. And as he proved on 2003's I Am the Movie, Motion City frontman Justin Pierre can actually sing. Which is different from just yelling really loud. His falsetto is silky against the crunchy guitars, giving the band a pop sound even when they're rocking out. Actually, Commit This to Memory doesn't actually rock out that much -- it prefers midrange tracks like "Make Out Kids" or the undeniable "Attractive Today," songs that use Jesse Johnson's moog in conjunction with treated guitar to separate the verses from those big, dynamite, strobe light choruses. Pierre's lyrics have an eye for the mundane detail, too. "I'm sick of the things I do when I'm nervous/Like cleaning the oven or checking my tires," he says in "Everything Is Alright." The details help Motion City Soundtrack, because it makes their wistful memories, tales of breaking up, and frantic searches for answers realer than the next pop-punk combo on the quadruple summertime bill. "Let's get f*cked up and die," the clever "LG Faud" begins. But it's not what you think. "I am speaking figuratively of course," Pierre continues. The track's acoustic layers are a nice touch; in conjunction with the softer "Together We'll Ring in the New Year," they add a subtle sense to Memory that suggests pop craftsmen like Guided by Voices or the Posies. Motion City Soundtrack isn't there yet -- Commit This to Memory does have a slight sameness about it. But right when it starts to get a little trying, the gorgeously mid-tempo "Resolution" and punchy "Feel Like Rain" prove the band's songcraft is already functioning at a higher level. And no amount of additional pogoing will bring their competition a golden intangible like that.

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