Growing up is difficult for any band, but when you’re a pop-punk band it’s nearly impossible. While it would be easy for Minneapolis’ Motion City Soundtrack to rewrite 2005’s immensely successful Commit This To Memory, instead they’ve traded much of that album’s saccharine sound for a guitar-driven disc that recalls ’90s alternative acts like the Foo Fighters far more than it does their peers like Fall Out Boy. This may seem like a risky move (and it certainly is), but ultimately what makes Even If It Kills Me such a success is the fact that the album transcends genres and proves that great songwriting will always win over the latest trend.
With its melodic Moog-line and upbeat tempo, the opener “I Fell in Love Without You” and quirky “Antonia” are reminiscent of the band’s older material and will instantly bring a smile to most listener’s faces if they were introduced to the band via their summer anthem, “The Future Freaks Me Out.” However, as anyone who’s heard Even If It Kills Me’s Weezer-worthy first single “This is For Real” already knows, there’s plenty of variance inherent on the album. For example, “Calling All Cops” eschews the band’s usual idiosyncrasies, proving that the group is capable of cranking up a great straight-forward rock sound, while “Last Night” sounds like a more upbeat version of indie stalwarts Death Cab For Cutie.
Lyrically, the album finds frontman Justin Pierre once again melding melancholy lyricism with pop-influenced music, but this time the music is starting to mirror his existential musings. “I just need a little time so I can find myself again,” Pierre croons on “The Conversation,” a gentle piano-ballad in which the singer’s fractured voice is so vulnerable you’re tempted to try to reach through the stereo and give him a hug. With Even If It Kills Me, Motion City Soundtrack haven’t only found themselves—they’ve connected with us as well.