The Movielife
Cities in Search of a Heart

The Movielife - Cities in Search of a Heart

This first impression was originally posted as a live blog for supporters in our forums on May 29th, 2017. First impressions are meant to be quick, fun, initial impressions on an album or release as I listen to it for the first time. It’s a running commentary written while listening to an album — not a review. More like a diary of thoughts. This post has been lightly edited for structure and flow.

I figure with so many albums I wanna write about, if I don’t start cranking these out, I’ll never get to everything in time. So, another night, another first listen thread! Celebrate!

Tonight I’ll be doing a little live blog for the new album from The Movielife. There was a time, maybe right around my freshman year of college, where I would have called The Movielife my favorite band. It was when pop-punk was getting pretty popular, but these guys played a little more aggressive style and seemed to sit under the radar … (before signing to Drive-Thru) … and I loved their name and music and that carried some cachet at 18. A band that was awesome that no one else really knew. That was catnip to me around that time period. So while everyone else had discovered NFG, I was proudly wearing my Movielife shirts around campus and thinking I was the absolute coolest.

I think those albums hold up pretty well too. Some of it’s a little dated, but I can go back to them and still sing along to those chant-y choruses and fast guitar riffs. Melody and pop-punk-hardcore …. there’s just something about that sound I’ve always loved.

So, here we are with a new album from the band, coming out on Rise Records. My over all thoughts on the album is that I like it and I’m gonna be playing it quite a bit this summer. I’m not totally convinced the sequencing is right, there’s a few songs I think I would have cut, and I don’t love it like I might have at a younger age … but it’s definitely good. It’s kinda like taking IATA (Vinnie’s vocals), and taking some of the ear for melody of Brandon Reilly’s Nightmare of You, and mixing in some guitar riffs and trying out some new things the band never really attempted in their past work … playing with melody, acoustics, and still keeping up the energy. I think the top line is that fans of the band I think will like it. You’ll hear complaints about the vocals cause they’re not pristine and crystal … and I think this is the kinda album I woulda loved to blast in the dorms and annoy the other residents with, or play constantly on my discman on the way to class (remember those?). It’s got that sun is out/music is loud kind of vibe to it. I think it settles in nicely with the trend lately of bands from that era releasing music. None of really knocks me on my ass, but I find myself enjoying it and not mad it exists. It sits right in that place of deserving plays on its own merit, but maybe getting a few extra because of the added nostalgia points.

Tonight’s beverage of choice … it’s fitting for this one … a can of Coors Light. Judge me all you want.

As always, I reserve the right to change my mind in the future, this isn’t really a review as much as it is just me listening to the album, writing some thoughts down, and speaking off the cuff about what I like, don’t like, and the over all impression the album gives me.

Feel free to jump in either nor or later with questions or anything you’d like to know more on, I can always expand and offer more thoughts and such.

Ski Mask

8:17pmI’ve never been a huge fan of albums that start with BAM vocals right off the bat. I suppose sometimes it works to just shock the system and say “hey, this is the album we’re here, we’re going” … but something about it always feels a little off to me. I like a little intro, I like a little something to warm me up and get me in the mood … but, I guess when you’re coming in hot with a sub-two minute song (and most of these songs are under three minutes), there’s no time to waste.

8:18pm I do like that there’s a “it’s been so long friend, how you been?” line almost immediately. Nice little self-reference to the band being back again after all these years.

Vinnie sounds like he has on the last few IATA albums. There’s some gravel in his voice.

8:18pmIt goes by fast. To be honest? I woulda cut it. I think the album starts better with the second track.

Mercy is Asleep at the Wheel

8:22pmWe get a nice little wall of sound. And then it pulls back for “Suburbs, in search of a city, did you ever get there, cause I waited for you?”

I love this chorus. It pulls me right back to 2001 and playing … has a gambling problem on repeat.

8:23pmNice little name drop of the album title right here. Another reason I think this woulda worked a little better as an album opener.

“Mercy is asleep at the wheel, the rest of us are just hanging on …”

8:29pmPretty standard Movielife lyrics.

Hey, a fun little breakdown screamy part here at the end. Haha.

Ghosts in the Photographs

8:31pmFun guitar riff. And a nice little vocal melody. Vocals pulled back a little in the mix, this one is more melodic than I think I would have expected in the past. Vinnie tries a few upper notes that feel a tad stretched.

8:32pmI like the background “woah oh oh oh”-s.

“I won’t be there to let you down again..”

One thing I’ll say, this album flies by when I listen to it … the tracks all being around the 3 minute mark means I barely have time to get a thought down and write and it’s half over, haha.

Sister Saint Monica

8:34pmLa la la la la la la la la. Someone’s little girl gets a cameo. Haha.

Love the crashing guitar work here, it sounds big … very Crime in Stereo-ish. And then we get some vocals into a very Liftetime-ish drum/guitar/vocal pattern.

8:40pmAll in all, it’s a totally fine, good, fun song. There’s something just undeniably fun about this album, as a whole …. it’s just an album of loud Long Island punk-ish sounding music. I think at a different point in my life I woulda taken this too seriously, been let down by expectations or lack of growth, but it’s hard for me to find much to complain about here. In a lot of ways it reminds me of IATA in that specific way … while listening to it I’m always engaged, enjoy it, and find a lot to like … once it’s over there’s not a whole lot that stays with me, but I still know I’ll be returning to it again soon.

Pour Two Glasses

8:42pmHere’s where the band mixes it up. We get strumming acoustic guitars and a violin.

It’s ballad time.

Maybe a little “Sailor Tattoos”-ish? Heh. Little love song. The violin is a nice touch, but maybe a tad overbearing.

“I’m not coming home for Christmas, I’m coming home for you.”

8:45pmFeels weird to hear that line in May. Heh. Guess the album isn’t out until September though.

Lake Superior

8:45pmI think this is my favorite song on the album.

8:45pmIt feels like a mixture of Brandon/Vinnie in such a perfect way, the aggression and melody, it’s a great combo. They do a lot of layering of Vinnie’s vocals on this album. It beefs up the vocals.

“I don’t know why I feel more drunk when I get sober.”

8:50pmThe Movielife have always been a pretty straight forward band. They never had the clever lyrics of their peers, it was more about just playing something loud and live. As my music tastes have changed over the years, I do find something like this comforting … it’s a “grab a beer and put on some music” kind of album.

Laugh Ourselves to Death

8:52pmI mean, if you can work in the line “the world is a pile of shit in the summer sun,” more power to you I guess.

I wanted this one to explode a little more, it kinda feels more rote Movielife though.

Blood Moon

8:45pmThis is another song that has a little more diversity in it that others, and it’s here toward the back end of the album. I think there’s a better way to sequence this album that gives it a little more flow. I dunno, I think I woulda wanted one more song that goes in like a “Jamestown” and wanted to spatter the more “diverse” tracks in a different way.

“The panic lets me know that I’m alive.”

I like that line.

8:57pmSometimes the full on “wall of sound” thing makes it hard to tell what’s going on and you just gotta embrace it.

You’re the Cure

8:59pmThis is a pretty vintage sounding Movielife song to me. The idea of just playing as fast as you can, a little forbidden beat action, and getting lost in it all. That’s what I always loved about This Time Next Year, when it just sounded like the band couldn’t quite get in front of itself.


9:02pmAnother song that has the band going outside of their comfort zone, and I think it works. It starts slow, with these spoken vocals that are almost hushed. It makes me wish that there were a few other tracks on here that tried something a little different like this. A little more risky.

“Please don’t call it protest, call it humanity.”

It’s an interesting way to close out the album, since it’s so different than anything else on here. I like when the little chanty vocals come in.

9:12pmBy and large it’s an album that feels like what you’d kinda expect The Movielife to sound like in 2017. Vinnie’s vocals sound like you’d expect. The lyrical content is about what you’d expect. The music sounds good, sounds fast at times, and there’s a couple curve balls in there.

As a whole? I like the album. I don’t love it. I’ve played it maybe 20 times or so and it’s got some good stuff in here and I find myself enjoying the summer weather with it in my ears. There’s times I wish it was a little more, or that it exploded a little louder … or took itself to a higher level … and it never quite gets there for me. So, it puts itself more on the good, never quite great, shelf for me. Something I’ll return to in time when I go through a Movielife ‘phase’, but I don’t think I’d ever really grab before their other albums. In a way it’s similar to the NFG albums before their latest … fine albums, not bad, but never like my go-to after a few months.

I think Movielife fans will enjoy this for sure, but I don’t know how many new fans it’ll find. I think it could have been helped with a little shaving here and there and a few tweaks, but here we are in 2017 with a new Movielife album.

I’ll be curious to see how my take on this changes with time. Do I come back to it? Do I forget it? Do I ever listen to it after a few months? I’m not sure.

9:16pmFor something on the fringe of my music tastes here in 2017, it’s an interesting listen to hear a band I definitely called my favorite band for that tiny stretch between MxPx, Blink, NFG, Midtown …. and then the Brand New/Thrice era of my life. It’s weird how much of my life I can call back to specific bands I was listening to at the time.

Ok! I’m gonna go find something to watch and relax a little. It’s been a nice three day weekend.