“Panic Stations,” the sixth album from Minnesota pop-punk/alternative rock band Motion City Soundtrack, was released on Sept. 18, and may send fans mixed feelings on its ever-evolving sound.
The first half of the album sounded more pop than pop-punk, and infused electronic-rock and indie-rock themes in its synthetic sounds and guitars. In songs such as “Lose Control,” the band uses this more pop-centric feel to iterate a feel-good dance beat that may seem to counter the lyrical themes of the song, as in the emotional lines “Some of us fall in love / Some of us fall apart.” These songs may seem melodically lackluster at times for fans of their earlier sounds.
However, Motion City Soundtrack is very clever in tying its songs together through a repeated idea. Throughout the album, the listener returns again and again to a theme of oceanic waves, crashing just as one’s pain and emotional baggage seizes them. “Lose Control” describes this early on, relating a life situation to an “ugly ocean.” The second to last track “The Samurai Code” ties them together with the moving lines “Starving myself in the name of progress / Clutching the tide as the ship goes down / My heart belongs beneath the ocean floor.”
The latter half of the record caters to its harder or more punk-rock fan base in songs such as “Broken Arrow” and “Over It Now,” which utilize the passionately-driven guitar sounds, ideas and feelings emulated in the genre. The best example of this is in the song “Gravity,” which is a personal favorite. It uses these melodic techniques, in addition to the emotional ideologies one expects in the language of a punk-hit: “It’s not the weight of the world / It’s just the way that I am / I didn’t mean to push you closer to the edge / Sometimes obsession gets the best of me.”
Overall, it was a decent album. Having listened to the band in the past, the sound that poured from my speakers was not quite what I expected — but that, by no means, means that it was bad; Motion City Soundtrack is instead gearing more towards the pop culture scene, while still balancing the sounds its original fans know and love.
What stood out the most in “Panic Stations” is the record’s lyrical brilliance. Some of the most powerful lyrics come from the song “Anything At All”: “I miss you, I hope you’re okay,” and “I’ve been waiting what feels an eternity / Hoping night after night you’ll return to me / And retire from the madness and excess / This derelict scene.” This album is definitely worth the listen.