The Movielife - Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (Cover Artwork)

The Movielife

Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (2003)


The Movielife's 2000 debut "This Time Next Year" was a refreshing release at the time, despite all the critical bashing that surrounded it. It was everything raspy pop-punk should have been, and with a few minor adjustments, it could have been a near-perfect record, and the band realized this. They went into the studio, attempting to build on the style they set on their previous release. The result was "It's Go Time!", which appeared late that same year. In many ways, it was an improvement over their debut, however the formula they had spent so much time working with was beginning to wear out its welcome. Being the quick band they are, they noticed this as well - and when it came time to go in the studio to record their major-label debut, they took an entirely different approach to songwriting, and after a little while they emerged with "Has a Gambling Problem," a trite EP that appeared mid-2001 on the overhyped Drive-Thru label. There wasn't a single memorable moment on the disc, and the songs were worse than having sex with a Herpes-ridden hooker, and that's me being nice.

The band kind of disappeared, and the record was pretty much ignored by even the Drive-Thru fanatics that bought everything MCA marketed, even the untalented-as-all-hell Off By One, which must have come as a huge shock. Well, after all this had settled in their stomaches, they had an album to write, and on top of that: something to prove (displayed best on "Taking It Out and Chopping It Up," arguably one of the band's best songs to date). During the somewhat long recording process, the band discovered they had the same ability to craft memorable pop songs as all of their labelmates, and sometimes even do it better; but before you run and out and buy this record, please look up the word 'sometimes' in the dictionary.

Nearly every song on this album is good, but in this day and age to stand out, you have to do much better than 'good'. The only real gripe I have with this record is that it's painstakingly obvious that this kind of thing doesn't come naturally - the songs are overworked, overdubbed, but below average in creativity. Music will always be close to art in that respect; it's very easy to distinguish the geniuses from the followers, and sadly The Movielife fall into the category sporting the latter. This album will sell thousands of records, without a doubt - but no one will give a shit in a year, and that's why this is a bland, average record.