Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life (Cover Artwork)

Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City Soundtrack: My Dinosaur LifeMy Dinosaur Life (2010)
Sony Music

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: BryneBryne
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Its popularity aside, 2007's Even If It Kills Me was a polarizing listen for many longtime fans of Motion City Soundtrack. While that record was full of pop that was competent enough, it was evident that the band was making a conscious effort to play it safe with song structures and vocal melodies i.
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Its popularity aside, 2007's Even If It Kills Me was a polarizing listen for many longtime fans of Motion City Soundtrack. While that record was full of pop that was competent enough, it was evident that the band was making a conscious effort to play it safe with song structures and vocal melodies in the name of being as catchy as possible, which was a bit of a ridiculous -- and ultimately, unnecessary -- proposition; what set Motion City Soundtrack apart from the rest of the power-pop pack was their ability to maintain their wordy, quirky and very unique identity without sacrificing catchiness. Both I Am the Movie and Commit This to Memory were examples of that.

Despite these perceived pratfalls, the kids ate it up; EIIKM debuted at number 16 on the Billboard 200 chart, the album spawned three moderately successful singles and in all likelihood, was the catalyst for the band's move to a major label for their fourth full-length, My Dinosaur Life. And to those older fans who left Motion City Soundtrack for dead a few years ago: They're back, and are sorry you felt alienated (but to be fair, they probably gained 10 new fans for every one they lost). My Dinosaur Life is their most focused effort to date and will please fans young and old alike.

The first and most noticeable difference between Even If It Kills Me and My Dinosaur Life is the tone. The whole record has a decidedly sharper edge than its predecessor; the guitars are beefed up, the unique wordplay of vocalist Justin Pierre is back and in full effect and Jesse Johnson's keyboard and Moog parts are slightly more pronounced, but never so overboard that they become grating to hear. The album gets off to a rousing start with "Worker Bee," a solid, quick opener that's highlighted by subtly intricate guitar work and soaring vocals from Pierre. The power chords that anchor the chorus of "A Lifeless Ordinary (Need a Little Help)," while extremely catchy, feel a little too akin to something one might hear on EIIKM, but the verses around them are bouncy and surprisingly jagged; in other words, original enough to let it go.

"Her Words Destroyed My Planet" just might be the ultimate Motion City Soundtrack track; unconventional instrumentation for a pop song (are those kazoos?), unapologetically nerdy and unbearably sad lyrics from Pierre (references to Veronica Mars, notions of getting a job at a coffee shop, shaving off his beard, selling his XBOX and taking an online course to learn Japanese are all signs of getting it together), all topped off with arguably the most memorable chorus the band has ever written. It's quite an achievement and will likely be a live staple for years to come. There are no room for kazoos in "Disappear," however; the song's darker, edgier instrumentation complements Pierre's frantic, biting delivery very well. The chorus, as usual, is laced with hooks and choice backup vocals. "Delirium" follows a similar formula, with the chorus's primary hook being the lyric "I swim in pharmaceuticals" (likely an autobiographical account from Pierre, who has battled with substance abuse problems in the past).

While the first half of My Dinosaur Life is nearly perfect, the back end doesn't slouch much, either. "Stand Too Close" is a heartfelt, acoustic-laden number that eventually yields a huge, anthemic chorus. Jesse Johnson's Moog and the underrated drumming of Tony Thaxton both getting a chance to shine on "Pulp Fiction." Pierre's vocal performance is somehow simultaneously herky-jerky and understated on "Hysteria" (what other vocalist can pull that off?) and "Skin and Bones," as the title might suggest, is a uniquely introspective look at the age-old idea of the meaning of life ("What if there's nothing more to us? / We're just carbon-based, we're just pixie dust").

The near-five-minute "The Weakends" closes My Dinosaur Life in dramatic fashion; the angular verses are carried by Thaxton's impressive fills, while Pierre's vocal performance is top-notch, as usual; the way the song crescendos from the quieter verses to the loud choruses certainly isn't a new technique, but damn if it isn't done to perfection here. Step aside, "Hold Me Down"; this is the new favorite album closer of choice.

Missteps on My Dinosaur Life are few and far between; "History Lesson" drags a little bit, which is never good for a song with a running time of 2:35, and the chorus of "@!#?@!" is the wrong kind of silly ("You all need to go away, you motherfuckers / You all need to leave me and my homeboys alone"), but aside from these brief transgressions, this is the best Motion City Soundtrack has been since I Am the Movie. Life is all about second chances, and My Dinosaur Life gives the band a new lease on it.


People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Gaslight Anthem - HandwrittenRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Gaslight Anthem - Señor and the QueenThe Clash - London Calling

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
WillRBF94 (January 19, 2011)

brilliant album, best studio album of 2010 hands down

you_are_a_loser (January 31, 2010)

I love the art direction, and the music is pretty great too. After listening to Even If This Kills Me a few times, I decided that MCS had completely lost it. I will now eat my words.

JKyle (January 29, 2010)

Good review, good album. MCS is back.

facetofacereunion08 (January 29, 2010)

I really really really like this. Never been a huge fan...havent listened to them much since "I am the movie" but even that one didn't last for me over the years. But I'm really digging this new one.

BluthCo (January 28, 2010)

One of the better "return to form" albums I've heard in awhile.

Misanthropee (January 28, 2010)


telegraphrocks (January 28, 2010)

Not good.

However, I really love the artwork.

jacknife737 (January 27, 2010)

I'm a bit taken back by a few comments here, complaining that MCS is too "poppy'? I mean, we are talking about the same band, yes? They play pop-rock/punk: it's their thing.

The album is pretty solid: not their best work, but i like it more than the last one (which i also enjoyed).

dreeeamweaver (January 27, 2010)

this singer sounds younger every album. 2 albums from now it's going to sound like MCS got Munk'd.

drewshaw (January 27, 2010)

i dig it. i am the movie is still the best. im glad i gave this a shot after how terrible that last album was

dropkicksoul (January 27, 2010)

How can you NOT love the chorus of 'The Weakends'? Amazing song. Amazing album.

dropkicksoul (January 27, 2010)

How can you NOT love the chorus of 'The Weakends'? Amazing song. Amazing album.

morgan (January 26, 2010)

i didn't listen to EIIKM based on the singles i heard but i've been loving this album.

itsAgiftANDaCURSE (January 26, 2010)

Tremendous album! I love all four of their albums just about equally. I can't say that about any other band. I actually think @!&#@ or whatever its called, I'll just call it song 9, is the best song on the album! Sure the chorus is silly but its catchy and the melodies in the middle of the song are some of the best MCS has ever created. I also love song 2, even though its super-mega poppy (I'm stunned that song isn't one of their singles). I think song 3 is the worst song on the album......it sounds too Mark Hoppus with the kazoo noise or whatever. I like every other song though.

itsAgiftANDaCURSE (January 26, 2010)

Tremendous album! I love all four of their albums just about equally. I can't say that about any other band.

thepopeofchili-town (January 26, 2010)

Even If It Kills Me sounds a lot more like a major label album than this does.

Honestly, this is probably my least favorite of theirs, based solely on ratio of good songs to bad songs.

Deadpan (January 26, 2010)

My problem with "@!#?@!." is, like others have said, the chorus, which reminds me way too much of latter-day Weezer. Not in a good way, obviously. Just in a badly executed, failed irony kind of way. Still, it's nowhere near as bad as Weezer, just a bit (uncomfortably) reminiscent.

paulrulzdood (January 26, 2010)

oh and "need a little help", "her words destroyed" and "pulp fiction" are, IMO, the 3 standouts.

Worker Bee and $*%&% are very new-Weezer-era-esque

paulrulzdood (January 26, 2010)

I am the MOvie and commit this to memory are still their best works.

i think the absense/lack of/buried in the mix Moog is here again, just like last album. reminds me of when majors made ska bands bury their horns in the mix in the early 2000s. the Moog isn't cool anymore I guess? that was brief.

Thaxton's drumming is sort of back. still, the songs just play it too safe for him to be totally awesome and the breakdowns just don't exploit him like they did on the first 2 albums.

it's a little less pussified than their last album and a little more even, but still some duds. "history lesson" may be their worst song to date.

Justin's voice seems a little weird on this album, but I like the guitar tones better than the last one.

their 3rd best album. Scott heisel is insane, he gave this shit a 5/5 in AP and says it's their best album. uhhh. ok.


exitenglish1208 (January 26, 2010)

i agree completely with the review, especially the part about the chorus of "@!#?@!." you worded it very well as "the wrong kind of silly" and it makes that song kind of a chore to listen to, but overall it's grown on me exponentially since first listen. I heard "disappear" first way back when and since then i've been excited since EIIKM was all in all a disappointment for me

swiftjustice (January 26, 2010)

good review, good cd

TheMarc (January 26, 2010)

This album is great. "Her Words Destroyed My Planet" is definitely one of their career highlights.

Deadpan (January 26, 2010)

My initial reaction to this was "Needs more moog". I like it though, I just need to listen to it properly other than on spotify.

Truthfully though, I Am The Movie is easily my least favourite of theirs, and I absolutely love Even if it kills me. Does that make me a bad person?

joshtalo (January 26, 2010)

I saw them in Grand Rapids last night and they fucking destroyed. 4 or 5 from MDL and then a wide variety from CTTM and EIIKM and IATM.

tylerdurden8136 (January 26, 2010)

It's a competent album for sure, but I don't feel the same magic that I did with their first two releases. Yes, it's very catchy but I don't see it lasting the test of time; there's just too much pop and not enough substance.

moneenerd (January 26, 2010)

MCS are lucky we don't rate albums by their artwork because they would be fucking dust!

half_empty (January 26, 2010)

100% agree with the whole review. I love this band, and while the last release was competetant it was also dissapointing. My g/f loves the poppier side that they showed on that record but for me thats not what MCS are all about. Personally this is probably my favourite CD of the band ( and i NEVER thought they would bring out something as good as IATM or CTTM again), it's edgy, dark in places, intelligent, yet still catchy in a quirky sort of way. I can't wait to hear them play some of these songs live, hopefully at the expense of a few of the EIIKM songs, which although weren't 'bad' songs, they just weren't interesting, energetic or original enough.

Bands very often peak in thier firstfew records and rarely return to write music as good, MCS have very much surprised me in that they have returned with a fantastic album, one very worthy of critical accliam.

timorous_me (January 26, 2010)

I didn't expect to like this record as much as I do after the disappointment of EIIKM.

Sundowning10 (January 26, 2010)

fuck this band

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