By now it should be common knowledge that if there was any eternal right to the thrones of pop rock-dom, the anti-hero masterminds Motion City Soundtrack would surely have first dibs to the proverbial thrones. 2012 marked Motion City Soundtrack embellishing various studio-craftery to produce the poppy experimental effort ‘Go’. Fast forward to the present and the lords are back to creating guitar trembling nature of their pre-‘Even If It Kills Me’ sound.
Thematically, the record embellishes facets of the nautical code. The sea acts as a symbol of the unpredictable capacity of the power of our emotions, forever on the verge of capsizing and eliminating our efforts to sail it. ‘Panic Stations’, then, are chronicled points of the climax of every tangible emotion as we navigate to each checkpoint.
‘I Can Feel You’ bubbles at the surface before exploding into a double-time end section. It’s nice to see vocalist and guitarist Justin Pierre as cutthroat as ever, lamenting how emotion usually “Pulls you apart, it stabs in the dark, it carries away.” There are mellow tracks such as ‘Over It’ and first single ‘Loose Control’ which allow listeners to catch their breath. The latter swirls around a synth line that almost mimics the undulating wave of the sea, a climax is reached where Pierre shrieks during the last refrain of the chorus, knocking the pop rock pillars together in the last moments. The instrumentation is bare (with the exception of their trademark synthesizer) allowing space for the band to refine the stripped machinework that has continued to churn out the infectious anthems that has held their corners of the pop rock scene together.
Pierre is able to polish off his trophy as the archetypal bittersweet subject that has made his narrative a favourite amongst fans. From the galloping ‘It’s A Pleasure To Meet You’ where he almost assures listeners, “You are not alone, we’ve all had our battles with darkness and shadows,” to the self-defeating ‘I Am The Movie’-esque ‘Gravity’ where Pierre proceeds to pinpoint the heights of despair he has experienced that “carries you out or buries you under.” Pierre pursues each expression with an engulfing conviction to listeners.
‘Panic Stations’ is a record of buoyant immediacy that brandishes all the quirky nuances that we’ve come to know of Motion City Soundtrack’s strand of sardonic pop rock.
‘Panic Stations’ by Motion City Soundtrack is out now on Epitaph Records.
Words by Aaron Akeredolu (@boymostlikelyto)