Motion City Soundtrack – “My Dinosaur Life”

February 11, 2010

Ever since hearing the upbeat chorus of, “The Future Freaks Me Out, ” and seeing Jesse Johnson’s unbelievable keyboard antics at Warped Tour ’03, I’ve been a die-hard Motion City Soundtrack fan.  From the raw excitement of their debut I Am The Movie, to the slick Mark Hoppus-produced Commit This To Memory, to the sugar rush of Even If It Kills Me, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching this band excel and grow into a sheer powerhouse many have likened to the second coming of Weezer.

It is with this feeling that I eagerly anticipated the release of their fourth album, My Dinosaur Life, which represented not only their move from Epitaph to Columbia but also a return from Mark Hoppus, who manned the boards on this disc as well.  I believed, with all my heart, that this was it-the disc that would push them over the edge into territory previously occupied by Fall Out Boy.  Those of us who followed that band can recall what happened when they moved from Fueled By Ramen to Island and released From Under The Cork Tree.  No explanation needed.

As tracks began to leak online in the months leading up to the disc’s release, my excitement could scarcely be contained.  “Disappear, ” the first song to materialize, was a darker rock tune, nearly absent of their signature synthesizer-heavy sound, but still a solid song that represented, in my opinion, a positive change for the band.  Soon to follow was the album’s first official single, “Her Words Destroyed My Planet, ” a soaring pop gem that I immediately put amongst their best work.  “A Lifeless Ordinary, ” appeared on Spin.com shortly thereafter, and although the song had debuted live during previous tours throughout 2009, hearing the studio version was a treat, despite sounding identical to the live version.  However, this could also be considered a good thing-how many bands can pull off emulating the sounds they’ve created in the studio without the benefit of backing tracks?

Either way, the street date of January 19th couldn’t come fast enough.  I even considered purchasing the mega-huge-deluxe-radical edition of the disc, which came complete with B-sides, picture discs and a handsome bound case featuring artwork by Joe Ledbetter.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait as long as I originally thought, as the album was put up in full on the Motion City Soundtrack Myspace in the days prior to the disc’s release.

I couldn’t wait.  I had to give it a listen.

Verdict?  This album is really quite terrible.

Aside from the three songs I’d heard beforehand, the rest of the album has about as much excitement as a spork hitting mashed potatoes.  The opener, “Worker Bee, ” has been described as an opening track similar to, “Attractive Today, ” off Commit This To Memory and, “Fell In Love Without You, ” from Even If It Kills Me, however I fail to hear the comparison.  It’s a weak song with a structure I’ve heard so many times before.

Things just get progressively bad from there.  “Delirium, ” and, “Hysteria, ” are a bit odd at points and don’t offer much in the way of good songwriting.  “Stand Too Close, ” and, “Skin And Bones, ” are too similar in their generic, plodding styles.  And, “History Lesson, ” almost seems like Motion City is trying to create a follow-up to the bombastic, “Capital H, ” off I Am The Movie, which they fail to pull off.  Only listen to this song if you enjoy hearing the chorus at least a thousand times.

There are moments where the band comes up for air long enough to prevent from completely drowning.  “@!#?@!” could almost be a Ben Folds Five song if slowed down a bit, what with it’s bounciness and curse-heavy refrain.  “Pulp Fiction, ” seems to recall older MCS, but this still does not a good song make.  And album closer, “The Weakends, ” could quite possibly be one of the bands heaviest tunes if Mark Hoppus hadn’t produced it like a pop song.

To sum it up, this album’s a major disappointment.  The synthesizer, which I’ve always considered a staple of their sound, is noticeably absent from this album.  As mentioned, Hoppus seems to favor the band as a powerpop group like Weezer, Fountains Of Wayne and The Cars, and has produced this disc in that style.  However, it’s obvious the band is trying some different styles, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they just need someone who understands this and will work with the band to achieve this in a recorded setting.

Until then, I’ll just have to throw on I Am The Movie and sigh.

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One Response to “Motion City Soundtrack – “My Dinosaur Life””

  1. Martin Says:

    Couldn’t agree more! “Her Words Destroyed My Planet” & “The Weakends” to me are really the only good original songs on the album. Everything else has been done a 1000x before and is so repatative. Good write up.


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