When Motion City Soundtrack finally signed to a major label in 2006, their fans could only watch and wait as the band started work on what should have been their biggest album to date, and three years later My Dinosaur Life just doesn’t quite deliver on the promise they seemed to possess.
On this, their Columbia Records debut, the Minneapolis pop-punkers have for the most part abandoned the hook-laden synth that in the past made songs like ‘Time Turned Fragile’ such a joy to listen to, instead opting for a less straight-forward take on their usual dark but perky fare. While Justin Pierre’s lyrics are just as sharp and bitter as ever, the melodies are more understated than the catchy pop gems found on previous albums, and it’s hard to tell if they are the better for it.
Debut single ‘Her Words Destroyed My Planet’ is three and a half minutes of agony-fuelled brilliance, whilst ‘@!#?@!’ is a riotous outburst of abuse disguised in a chart-friendly package which the likes of which bands like You Me At Six would give their right arms to have written. However, it’s on songs like second single ‘Disappear’ where this album’s shortcomings become clear. While there is nothing wrong with the song itself, the heavy guitars and fast-paced melodies wouldn’t exactly sound out of place on Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Futures’; The chorus of ‘Skin and Bones’ is a perfect example of the drum-driven pop-punk Blink-182 have been playing for 15 years. The problem is that even when they deliberately move away from their own trademark sound, they walk straight into someone else’s. Perhaps in the past no-one would have noticed, but with thousands of identikit bands to be found at the click of a mouse it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect something a little more distinctive from a band with such a strong back-catalogue.
By no means would I condemn this album to the ‘generic pop-punk’ bin, never to be seen or heard again; this is a good album with some great songs. It’s just a shame that MCS have insisted on looking backwards, and channelling their own influences, rather than looking forward and doing something vaguely original.