There is nothing particularly new about Motion City Soundtrack. You’ve probably heard it before: Poppy melodies, songs about girls, layers of Moog synthesizer. The lead singer has glasses; his voice is thin and somewhat grating. The sing-song choruses mask the melancholy of the lyrics. Despite the familiarity, Even If It Kills Me is one of the best power pop albums to be released in a very long time.
The thing that sets Motion City Soundtrack apart from a million other bands is their geeky charm. There is nothing cool about Jason Pierre and Joshua Cain, which is why their music is so likable. When
A big part of this charm comes from the producers, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, and former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. The biggest issue with 2005’s Commit This to Memory was that the songs started to blend together towards the end. Ocasek and Schlesinger have refined the band’s sound so the mid-album lull never occurs. This results in a tighter, catchier album. Sonically, the album isn’t much different than its predecessor. Fast tempos, Moog synthesizer and fuzz-toned guitars are in abundance. The band has learned how to use these trademarks without relying on them, and it results in more memorable songs.
While the music on the album is catchy, the lyrics are what make the album stand out. On Commit This to Memory,
The only weak link on this album is “The Conversation,” a spare, piano based ballad. Jason Pierre doesn’t have a great voice, but it fits the band’s sound. With just a piano, his voice becomes grating and thin.
Despite this minor flaw, Even If It Kills Me does everything a good follow-up should do. It keeps the band’s core sound while fixing the major problems of the previous record.