Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life
Release Date: January 19, 2010
Record Label: Columbia
It was in sixth grade when I got my first iPod. I didn't know how or where to get music, so I naturally turned to my neighbor (who at the time was in tenth grade) to see if he could hook me up with some music that I might like. He gave me a good 200+ songs, from which I tried to find stuff I could like. I had found one band that I particularly liked, and they stuck with me up until this very day. The band name, of course, is none other than Motion City Soundtrack. "The Future Freaks Me Out" was my sixth grade anthem, and here I am, four years later, still listening to them.
Change should have been expected from these guys; Mark Hoppus tweeted while he was producing the album that it was heavier, that it wasn't like anything they had ever done before. Was this a step in the right direction? Or was it a disaster waiting to happen?
The answer is somewhere in between. This is not the MCS you grew up with. The change is very different; it's not a typical alternative band, nor is it typical Motion City. It's like MCS took one step forward and two steps back. It's something different that ended up not quite as together as the other three previous albums.
"Worker Bee" starts off the album with frontman Justin Pierre singing a capella with a quick strum of the guitar. Pierre's voice hasn't lost any of its power within all these years, and he probably shines even better when it comes to any other of their albums. He tries different things with his voice in this album that he probably wouldn't have during the CTTM/EIIKM era. Soon after, we get some nice, heavy riffs blasting in, completely different than the three moog-laced albums we had gotten before. It's likely to be a change to any fan of them who really really liked the moog. It was one of the different things about Motion City (the use of moog), and with it gone, it almost feels like there's something missing in every song. Granted, there are some moog parts, but not nearly as evident as on previous albums.
The lyrics are relatively mediocre, and while they still have some power to them, they can't carry as far as other lyrics did. Pierre has been quoted saying that "Her Words Destroyed My Planet" was the most honest song he ever wrote, and with lyrics like "If we'd only stayed together/I might not have fallen apart/But the words you served destroyed my planet", it is much more significant compared to lyrics from, say, "Disappear"; "I can disappear/Any time I want to, time I feel you/Shovel through my skin/I am with you 'til the end" doesn't seem to carry meaning.
Nearly every song in My Dinosaur Life has that underwhelming feeling. Strong vocals with mediocre lyrics and some pretty good musicianship with a lack of moog leaves a different feeling than other MCS albums.There's also a problem with the length of the album; there are a few songs that don't reach the three minute mark. Some barely pass that, and most don't pass three and a half minutes. The shortness of the album is also a huge disappointment compared to some of the longer, four plus minute songs they had. The only up-to-par songs would be "A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)", "Stand Too Close", and "Pulp Fiction." "Stand Too Close" is slower than most songs, and while it's still not close to anything they had made before, it has very personal lyrics with some gentle guitar mixed with some pretty strong drums. "A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)" isn't typical MCS either, but it has enough catchy riffs and lyrics that it feels like it could've fit into EIIKM. "Pulp Fiction" is the catchy, insane version of Pierre telling us how he embraces the Japanese he's learning, seeing as not only does he fit in some Japanese (one or two words, but it's there nonetheless) but he also makes the song sound like an anime opening (go and try it).
I can only leave listening to My Dinosaur Life feeling slightly disappointed. There was change to be had, and everyone knew it. It was due time, but this isn't the change I predicted. Short songs and lukewarm lyrics make me almost desire the addicted Pierre, who's lyrics were laced with alcoholic fervor and emotion. It's good that he's been staying sober to the best of his ability, but there was an undeniable charm to his words when he wasn't.
Since I started listening to them around 6th grade, being the angsty kid I was then (less so now), his lyrics spoke more to me then than they do now. Some of the lyrics I like, but a lot I don't find to care for. But to each his own, right?
nice review. though i find the evolution of this band intriguing. if you look at the progression of albums and underlying themes of each of them, this album defiantly holds to its own.
though i feel the closing moment of MDL are a little bit weak compared to previous releases, i like the craftsmanship equally to that of the previous albums. IATM was the aggressive album, CTTM was the game changer, EIIKM was the heartbreak one, and MDL is the one from the ashes of heartbreak.
Good review man. I agree with a lot of your opinions. I feel like this band is my band. Like, I feel such a strong connection to them, and was a little disappointed, which I have never been with anything of theirs. It's still really solid though, and will probably grow on me.