By Amelia Blevins
Opening with the lyrics “it’s been a good year, a good new beginning” on the first track “Worker Bee,” indie pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack’s 4th studio album, My Dinosaur Life, harkens back to its rougher earnest roots of debut album I Am the Movie, with lead singer Justin Pierre’s melodic vocals taking on a harsher quality. But fear not, fans of the poppier, catchy lyrics of Commit this to Memory and Even if it Kills Me, you won’t be disappointed. With Mark Hoppus back as producer, the band is nothing if not lively.
Tracks such as “Pulp Fiction” carry the energetic, frenzied pace of earlier albums with intricate, image-heavy lyrics. While Pierre’s vocals often keep the mood light, the lyrics are hardly happy. The album pulls us through songs rife with stories of relationships in different states of disrepair, particularly in “Pulp Fiction,” where Pierre brilliantly describes the effects a girl has on him after calling it quits: “It’s like a bad dream, something from the back of a magazine / black and white and cheaply put together / like a slasher film / I’m torn in opposite directions / the plot sucks but the killings are gorgeous.” The harmonious vocals combined with witty metaphorical language keep you listening, in hopes of discovering newfound golden lines.
The album’s first single, “Disappear,” opens up with screeching guitar feedback. Pierre’s voice comes in with frantic, determined lines like “Hold it straight together, man, Hold it straight together if you can.” With a steady fast drum beat, hearts race and you feel the need to follow Pierre’s direction, “First you breath out then you have to breathe in / Lash yourself repeatedly until it sticks, until it sticks.” Okay, well maybe I didn’t follow everything, but I was damned well breathing, okay?
We switch gears after “Disappear” with “History Lesson,” which sounds like an odd mix of 90s acoustic-rock with an opening vaguely reminiscent of Bob Dylan. This song reminds me of some blend of Green Day’s “Time of Your Life,” Third Eye Blind and Eve 6, with maybe even a dash of the Proclaimers if I listen really hard.
The album comes to a close with “The Weakends,” whose bass drum opening beat and moody guitar give me hope for a cathartic ending, like Commit this to Memory’s “Hold Me Down.” As with the rest of the album, the rougher vocals keep it high charged with heavy guitar while holding on to an invigorating, cleansing feel.
To end with some more “Worker Bee” lyrics, “A gold star, I deserve a gold star today.” Indeed you do, Motion City Soundtrack. In fact, I’m feeling very generous and award My Dinosaur Life 4.5 stars. They should look good tacked to the fridge.