Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Motion City Soundtrack

Even If It Kills Me (2007)


I am quite disappointed with the new Motion City Soundtrack album Even If It Kills Me. If you've known me for the early parts of this decade, you'll know how much I hyped this band up when they were a young unsigned act out of Minnesota. Now they're one of the biggest bands on Epitaph and the kids are eating up their infectious hooks and melodies. I'm not bitter because they're not my little band anymore -- I always saw them destined for bigger things and I was a fan of their sophomore release Commit This to Memory, which propelled them to new heights. Even If It Kills Me certainly sounds as if the band has progressed and matured, but it's missing that distinguishable spark, the charm that made them so creative and fun.

The album opens firing on all cylinders with the ripping "Fell in Love Without You"; it vaguely reminds me of a Descendents song but with some of the craziest synth parts Motion City have ever placed in a song. Aside from that and lead single "This Is for Real," I can hardly picture myself dancing to these 13 tracks. "This Is for Real" is your standard MCS song: upbeat, an infectious chorus, captivating breaks, quirky lyrics, and the synth part is ridiculously catchy. "It Had to Be You" follows; it starts slow and rises, but plateaus too early. You can see where the boys wanted to go with it, but it falls short of its destination. Similar descriptions can be applied to "Last Night" with its keys paying homage to the Get Up Kids or late-comer "Point of Extinctions"'s lack of a valuable chorus and verses that are stuck in neutral. "Hello Helicopter" is a rare Motion City song that has me questioning why it was included on the album, as opposed to a B-side or better yet, scrapped on the recording room floor.

Even If It Kills Me isn't completely terrible though. Several songs may not deliver at full force, but there are certain parts that relay MCS's genius. Take "Antonia" for example, a simple, playful song that's nothing to brag about, but the moment Jesse Johnson's synthesizer hits you'll remember why you first fell in love with this Minneapolis quintet.

Justin Pierre's lyrics aren't quite what they used to be, though. The title track embarrassingly uses "…and I'm too tired to go to sleep / tonight / and I'm too weak to follow dreams / tonight..." The zany-haired frontman's lyrical style is generally laced with slick pop culture references and he intelligently plays with words sometimes; for example, on the aforementioned "Antonia" he brilliantly paints a picture of a girl while carefully crooning "She's always eating Captain Crunch / She sings a lot of Ben Folds Five / She's scared to death of cobra snakes / Just like Indiana Jones." It's trouble-free, cute, effective, and shares similar vibes to "Perfect Teeth" from the re-issue of their debut LP I Am the Movie.

Motion City Soundtrack's third album Even If It Kills Me may not deliver effectively at all times, but there are some tracks and parts hidden in the songs that still showcase the band's sincerity and genius. If you're a fan of the band, it's still worth a few repeat listens; however, if they haven't done anything for you yet, don't expect this album to be the one that changes your opinion.