The All-American Rejects

When the World Comes Down

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After releasing their charming debut, the All-American Rejects polished up their act with 2005's Move Along, a slick album that paired emo-pop anthems with spit-shine studio polish. Released three years later, When the World Comes Down reprises the same formula that made Move Along a success, from the blatantly commercial tracks (most of which hover around the 3:30 mark, that magical combination of minutes and seconds that seems to produce the most singles) to the use of auxiliary instruments. Strings, orchestral flourishes, and a female choir all beef up these 13 songs, which (at their root) are straightforward pop tunes about heartbreak, heartache, and other cheerless conditions of the cardiac organ. The extra instruments aren't always needed, but they do add an extra layer to the band's songwriting, which isn't nearly as intricate or impressive as the arrangements themselves. "Fallin' Apart" is fleshed out with piano and bowed strings, "The Wind Blows" finds room to house an entire orchestra, and "Another Heart Calls" pairs Tyson Ritter's vocals with the twangy lilt of the Pierces, whose cameo appearance is a bit odd (a folk duo on an emo album?) but still serves as one of the record's truly unique moments. Elsewhere, producer Eric Valentine covers these tunes with a heavy coat of gloss, as if to pretend that the All-American Rejects' reliance on four-chord progressions is more interesting than anything by their likeminded peers. It isn't -- and that's the Rejects' main problem, since they tend to focus on presentation rather than execution. Of course, When the World Comes Down is nothing if not a commercial record, and any lack of distinction won't keep these would-be singles from finding a place on digital radio. Discerning fans may demand something new from the band's next record, however, since this is essentially Move Along with a revised track list.

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