Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me
Record Label: Epitaph
Release Date: September 18, 2007
When Motion City Soundtrack released their third studio album Even If It Kills Me in 2007, a minor backlash from fans (claiming the band's darker days were behind them) ensued. Even If It Kills Me boasts an album-long poppier, friendlier sound than the most mainstream tracks from either of their previous releases. Although the LP was by no means panned, it was universally received (and still is, considering My Dinosaur Life garnered rave reviews) as the bands weakest album, and a step backwards both emotionally and technically from lead-vocalist Justin Pierre and crew.
I have never understood this.
The Dark Knight may not have the raw potency of a gripping redemption story, or the brooding sensibilities of its predecessor, but does its ability to appeal to both a mass audience and die hard film or batman fans make it any less a masterpiece? Does Motion City's attempt at pleasing a wider audience with songs that are likelier to burrow themselves in your head take away from the fact that the lyrics, vocals, and overall passion exemplified by this album live up to, and are often strides forward from, the bands prior works? There is not a moment in time whilst listening to this album that I felt cheated by Pierre and his team. The lyrics soar ("What a disaster it would be if you discovered that I cared/A little too much for friends but not enough to share") and Justin's voice has never sounded better.
The album opener, "Fell In Love Without You" may be the weakest track on the entire disc, (isn't it strange how often singles turn out to be less impressive than the entirety of the rest of an album?) but even it is solid enough to warrant repeat listenings. Track 4, "Last Night," is one of the band's all-time greatest achievements, a gorgeous blend of restrained instrumentation, awe-inspiring vocals, and heart-wrenching lyrics "My body aches it heaves it shakes/All somersaults through so-called art/And I still don't know exactly who I am/I never will/amen." Easy as it is to quote lyrics like that on a Facebook wall, I can't help but marvel at the bravery it takes just to write something like that and know that it will be exposed to all of your family and friends for all of time.
The album's second half; however, delivers several fantastic songs that often leave me stunned as I listen to them. Songs like the beautifully short and heartfelt "The Conversation," the lyrically exhausting "Point Of Extinction," and quirky character study that is "Antonia" each showcase a variety of different talents that the band possesses. Their passion has gone nowhere, even if some of their anger has.
Alas, here's where things get really biased. The album closer, the titular "Even If It Kills Me," is not only the CD's best track, but also one of the most astronomically bare-boned, stunningly crafted, heart-poundingly relatable songs I have ever heard. It is the kind of song that begs to be played in the passenger's seat of your best friend's car, heading home at the end of a long, shitty day. The kind of song that sums up a winter's night and Summer's day. It is inspiring beyond belief, and every bit as inspired. For every person out there who pledges daily to make big changes in their life, there is Pierre to stand beside them. He admits, at the end of a song in which he makes every listener believe he'll succeed, that "The sad truth of the matter is/I'll never get over it." It's a sad truth. He continues: "But I'm gonna try/To get better and overcome each moment/In my own way/I so want to get back on track/And I'll do whatever it takes/Even if it kills me..."
The verses of the track "Even If It Kills Me" have a Piebald tone to them. I Am The Movie is probably my favorite release of theirs. I'd also say their style has an unmistakably strong Pixies influence (I always hear a Pixies + Weezer sound in their music), more so with their highly energetic songs.