Reviewed by: Matt Kelchner
Veteran pop punkers Motion City Soundtrack return with their sixth full length album and their first in three years. Panic Stations finds the band trading in their quirky and playful trademark style for a more refined and polished sound. While the diverting from the trail that they have been forging for well over a decade, Motion City Soundtrack come back with a collection of well-written songs that make up one of their best albums in years.
Singer Justin Pierre somewhat quietly mutters “Let’s do this” before chugging guitars begin the hard hitting album opener “Anything At All”, preparing fans for their unexpected new change in direction. The led single, “TKO”, and another memorable track, “I Can Feel You” follow and further drive the strong opening.
As the album moves from track to track, an overall arc of a simpler, more straightforward style is obvious. For Panic Stations Motion City Soundtrack teamed up with seasoned producer John Agnollo, who has recently worked with some of our favorite locals Kurt Vile and Hop Along. Distorted guitars and big, booming drums lay the groundwork in songs like “It’s A Pleasure To Meet You” for inescapable hooks courtesy of Pierre’s soaring vocals. Motion City Soundtrack’s signature buzzing synthesizer is more prominent than in past efforts and overall finds perfect fits in every song.
While at times songs may sound almost too calculated and is not groundbreaking, that does not mean it isn’t enjoyable. The record’s closing track, “Days Will Run Away”, is a five and a half minute burner that easily one of their best songs in years. From start to finish Panic Stations is a pleasant rebound from recent albums and demonstrates that despite being around for 15 years, Motion City Soundtrack are not afraid to venture into uncharted territory.