The All-American Rejects - Kids in the Street
Record Label: Interscope
Release Date: March 26, 2012
When it comes to music, I tend to live and let live. There are forms of music I don’t like, and I believe those forms of music were not created for me to like them. But there are a few things that I do believe in for sure, all of which are things that the All-American Rejects prove to me with their latest release, Kids in the Street.
#1) Music should be made to sell as much as it’s made to inspire and be soulful.
#2) Never devalue a band after one unfavorable release that just doesn’t jive with you.
#3) Overall, artists get better with age and are truly able to hone their crafts with time.
Allow me to elaborate.
If you were to listen to frontman Tyson Ritter talk about his own band, you’ll hear the utmost of passion in his voice. He truly speaks his heart about his own music and it is in fact the music he creates with his band that inspires him to do what he does; a sign of the musically pure of heart. This is also the same man who has penned platinum singles such as “Dirty Little Secret” and “Move Along”.
Even after the misstep that was When the World Comes Down, I was always able to return to their older material, even the few songs that I could stomach from WTWCD, for pop-rock gold, and when I use a term like “gold” in this context, I mean that they are truly masterminds of the pop-rock songwriting world. They just know how to write popular songs whether I like them or not.
Here we are, nearly three and a half years since the last album came out, and as time has gone on, the band have taken some lessons not just from their previous music, but from their own lives. Kids in the Street is AAR’s crowning achievement. Not everything is perfect, but the often occurring high points are new high points in their career.
The hits are still a-plenty with the opening two tracks. “Someday’s Gone” and “Beekeeper’s Daughter” as a one-two punch set the record on fire right off the back with catchy hooks and signs that this is yet another progression and shift in style for the band. This is the best type of shift, however; the shift that changes the sound but keeps the energy.
“Fast and Slow” has a melody that harps back to the AAR days of old, though I must admit, for the first two times the chorus hit me, I was waiting for it to pick up. At first it felt a little lackluster in the sense that it could have been so much more bombastic than it was. It wasn’t until the chorus hit for the last time at the end that I realized it was never supposed to explode, it was meant to be a sensual groove. And with that, it succeeds.
The two songs that follow have to be some of the best songs the band have ever written. “Heartbeat Slowing Down”, in an attempt to be clever, slows the beat to a powerful heart-pounding anthem. “Walk Over Me” is likely to be a fan favorite. Tyson’s voice fits incredibly well into the vintage Rock n’ Roll sound.
The album coasts along nicely with “Out the Door” and “Kids in the Street”, delivering both catchy melodies with heartfelt lyrics, much to the pattern of the rest of the album. “Bleed Into Your Mind” is where things get very interesting. The album, to this point, is already experimental to an extent, but this is a song that grabs your interest, then it flies by you before you even know it. It’s a great song that I wish went on a little longer than it does.
“Gonzo” is like a gift from the pop-rock heavens. Five minutes of a pounding beat and harmonious melodies stroll gracefully without ever feeling overdone or redundant, which is a shining example of how impeccable the songwriting on this record is, both musically and lyrically. It’s as much rock as AAR has ever been, but the vocally driven harmonies add some crisp layers to make great what would merely be a good record.
“Affection” is the best track that the All-American Rejects have ever written, recorded and released. An absolutely beautiful song; the standout of standouts. It is also where the album should have ended. By the last few seconds, I felt like everything had come full circle, like the album had finished telling its story, but I gave my standing ovation a little too early. “I For You”, while not a bad song in it’s own right, is boring to end the record with, especially following a track as dynamic with such a feeling of closure as “Affection”. It’s also very short, clocking in at a little over two and a half minutes. It all felt very abrupt and anti-climactic.
In conclusion, there are bands that exist in this “scene” that show us what it means to grow and expand musically. The concept of growth is not one that is universally praised. There are results that the initial fan base may not enjoy much at all. But nobody can doubt for a second that the band have never been more inspired to create. There are songs for everybody to love here. Though it’s taken a little longer than I would have liked, the All-American Rejects prove to me what they hopefully intend to prove to the world; they know what the hell they’re doing. Whether you like what they do or not. A resounding “Welcome Back”.