Though Motion City Soundtrack has spent its three-album lifespan—beginning with 2003’s I Am The Movie—on the indie label Epitaph, the Minneapolis band always sounded like it belonged on a major label. Its maddeningly catchy rock—associated with punk, but undeniably pop with clever, sensitive-boy lyrics—seems like it should thrive in the post-Fall Out Boy world. Even if it’s debatable that a major label in 2010 can really offer more than an indie powerhouse like Epitaph, Motion City Soundtrack has basically fulfilled its destiny with My Dinosaur Life, its Columbia debut.
Little besides the label has changed. The band reunited with producer (and Blink-182 bassist) Mark Hoppus, who also produced its 2005 breakthrough, Commit This To Memory. So clearly the plan wasn’t to make any drastic changes; guitarist Josh Cain said the band mostly wanted to make a “darker rock record.” Much of that comes from the anxious lyrics by singer-guitarist Justin Pierre, but songs like “Disappear” and “Delirium” drop Jesse Johnson’s keyboards—a key component of Motion City Soundtrack’s sound—in favor of more aggressive punk. Regardless, My Dinosaur Life doesn’t feel terribly darker than its predecessors, and the focus remains squarely on catchy songs. There isn’t a dud among the album’s 12 tracks, and more than a few (particularly “Her Words Destroyed My Planet”) have a catchiness that borders on oppressive.
“A Lifeless Ordinary” veers a little too close to Weezer-esque cheese in its generic chorus, and budding “sensitive homeboys” anthem “@!#?@!”—“Go fuck yourselves, leave us alone”—is a little groan-inducing, but those missteps are pretty minor. In the end, Motion City Soundtrack has created another in a series of impeccably constructed pop albums.