With all the personal issues that vocalist and guitarist Justin Pierre has faced over the course of his life, it’s sometimes hard to believe that Motion City Soundtrack remains a band. With the addictions and relapses plaguing Pierre, the band should have been extinct years ago. But having a great support system around him and a musical outlet has helped Pierre and his band mates release stellar album after album. You would think that eventually things would spin out of control, especially after the lukewarm reception their last offering (2007’s Even If It Kills Me) received from fans. It definitely was more poppy than previous releases, and instead of tailspinning, the Minneapolis quintet landed right back on its feet to record their Columbia Records debut.
By re-enlisting Mark Hoppus to produce (he first worked with the band on 2005’s Commit This To Memory), the band wanted to return to that edgy sound but expand on it. Finally clean, Pierre relays his most honest lyrics to date. Even If It Kills Me was Pierre’s apology letter, he knows he has screwed up in the past and wants to get better. My Dinosaur Life is Pierre overcoming those past demons, intent on making his former life extinct. In the beginning stanza of opener, “Worker Bee,” Pierre states, “I’ve been a good little worker bee, I deserve a gold star.” And with that we’re off. The song features even more clever wordplay over driving guitars that immediately gets your head bobbing.
My Dinosaur Life combines the mayhem and melody of Commit To This Memory, while maintaining the pop sensibilities they showed on Even If It Kills Me. It has the ferocity of a debut album while maintaining the expertise that seasoned bands possess. First single, “Her Words Destroy My Planet,” features Pierre desperately trying to win back a former flame by mentioning all the things he has done to get better. The song is packed with huge guitars and raw emotion, the pinnacle being when Pierre screams, “It’s all my fucking fault.”
The variety displayed on My Dinosaur Life is impressive. Whether they are bringing back the ghost of Eve 6 on the incredibly catchy, “Pulp Fiction,” or pulling off dark undertones on brooding tracks like “Delirium” and “Disappear,” there is something for everyone.
“Hysteria” bleeds intensity, and Moog-master Jesse Johnson shines. The band also can write a pretty good radio-ready pop song, as displayed on “Stand Too Close”. The quirky lyrics are still everyone, with the insane “@!#?@!” proving to be nonsensical yet entirely hilarious. Really, the only misstep here is “History Lesson,” which sounds like a bad version of an anthemic O.A.R. song.
But the final two tracks, “Skin and Bones” and “The Weakends” perfectly sum up the themes of My Dinosaur Life. “Skin and Bones” chorus is beautifully smooth, while Pierre’s pensive lyrics litter the track. “The Weakends” is brash and aggressive, with Pierre being as candid as ever. Pierre and Joshua Cain’s guitar work moves the track along, while drummer Tony Thaxton (the unsung hero on My Dinosaur Life, seriously the best drumming he has ever done) skills breathe and run rampant. It makes sense that the most intense track would close out Motion City Soundtrack’s most intense and honest album to date.
The complexities and dense topics still remain on Dinosaur, giving the album many layers for the listener to peel apart. Basically, My Dinosaur Life is the fusion of the best moments of Motion City Soundtrack’s previous three albums and expanding on that, while maintaining all the uniqueness and quirks that fans love about the band. This album will probably draw a lot of comparisons to Weezer’s first two albums, which won’t be surprising because there are a lot of similarities. But if Weezer created the nerdy/quirky pop-rock sound, then Motion City Soundtrack has perfected it on My Dinosaur Life.