All-American Rejects Hit The Road (April 2009)

28 11 2011

Laura Marshall
April 21, 2009
Barnes, AJRL 475
Assignment #3: Album Review

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Oklahoma rock band The All-American Rejects, abbreviated “AAR,” kicked off the East Coast leg of their “I Wanna Rock” tour, with stops across New England and Canada in support of their December release “When the World Comes Down,” last week.

Album Cover

“When the World Comes Down” has been on the Billboard 200 chart since it’s December 16th release, peaking at number 15 in late January. With 12 tracks “When the World Comes Down” has just over 45 minutes of music. The four-man group has received attention and success since 2001, when their full-length debut “The All-American Rejects” sold over a million copies.

“I Wanna” is a playful opener on the junior effort. It is repetitive without being annoying, which is seldom found in pop ditties. “I Wanna” begins with a sort of spoken-word, as we heard previously on 2001’s single “Swing Swing.”
It is a more obviously provocative song, which is right on pace for this place in their career. “I Wanna” shows lyrically that they know where they came from, but also where they’re going.

“Damn Girl” seems like your typical retelling of a love triangle at first listen. But a pointed chorus with lyrics like “You stole my heart and then you kicked it aside / No girl, you can’t see / When he’s inside you, know there’s no room for me,” quickly reminds why AAR stand out on the fickle pop-punk scene.

“Gives You Hell” served as the first single and easily bridges the gap between “When the World Comes Down” and the 2006 release “Move Along.” AAR has gently brought audiences along, using catchy, radio-friendly anthems to draw us in, so that we will buy the disc and discover the ballads ¾ which become deeper and more mature on each album.
“Gives You Hell” is a power-pop tale of vengeance and a little spite. It has a similar vibe to such singles as “Move Along” and “Dirty Little Secret,” with emphasis on a simple chord progression and easy rhyming lyrics.

“Breakin’” is the clearest “break-up song” on the album. This is the closest thing to “emo” that AAR has to offer on “When the World Comes Down,” a welcome change from their 2001 self-titled debut ¾ which every brooding high school kid had to have at the time.
The song has a steady drum beat, which gains momentum as the song continues, and hyper guitar. Lyrics like “not a soul sleeps / Another heart skips a beat / It’s every note that you wrote / And I hope that you choke on the lines / You’re wasting my time” help to drive their (perhaps) tearful, angst-y message home.

“Another Heart Calls” is a haunting collaboration with Alabama-based sister act The Pierces.
“Another Heart Calls” has a folk vibe, thanks in part to The Pierces, but could still do very well among AAR’s usual young, Top 40 audience.
Lead singer Tyson Ritter is not overshadowed by the guest singers, which is more than can be said for other such duets as “Congratulations” by Blue October and Imogen Heap, or “Picture” by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock.
Indie outfit The Pierces, who have released three studio albums of their own, have had success lately with their singles “Secret” and “Three Wishes” being featured on such primetime television shows as “Gossip Girl” and “Dexter;” and should expect additional exposure as “When the World Comes Down” continues it’s climb.
“Another Heart Calls” reads like a lover’s spat, each says “I’ll never ask for anyone but you,” but that “All I ever do is give, it’s time you saw my point of view” and “Everything that matters breaks in two.”

“Back to Me” is boring, typical, and unnecessary at this point in the career of AAR. They can do better, in fact there is better, before and after, on this very CD.
The deepest lyric in the whole song is “When your eyes light up the skies at night / I know you’re gonna find your way back to me,” which is troubling in itself because this band has produced such stinging one-liners as “Truth be told I miss you, but truth be told I’m lying,” and “All your tears couldn’t match the bitter taste of all these wasted years.”

AAR Frontman Tyson Ritter

“The Wind Blows,” slated to be the second single off “When the World Comes Down,” is a vulnerable discussion of infidelity. Likening his companions loyalty to the shifting of the wind, Ritter mews “You threw our love away / Then you passed it to someone new / You wanna stay / But since you wanna play / We can finally say we’re through.”
“The Wind Blows” is along the same vein as “It Ends Tonight,” off their 2006 record, and will no doubt be as successful, if not more so, than that single.
AAR present an interesting perspective; one that is androgynous and ageless, one that is not as feeble as you may expect from 20-somethings clad in skinny jeans.

Like many artists of the moment, AAR includes a “hidden track” at the end of “When the World Comes Down.” “Sunshine” is just three minutes long, but manages to fit “Forget about the sunshine when it’s gone” in (literally) 10 times.
This track is stirring musically, but could have just been left off. The message not to allow yesterday’s problems to ruin today’s joys ought be employed when looking back over this album. Don’t let the successes of “Damn Girl” and “Another Heart Calls” be dragged down by the missteps of “Sunshine” or “Believe.”

On a scale from zero to five, I would rate “When the World Comes Down” as a three. And a half.
If you were to listen to each of The All-American Reject’s three albums end-to-end, a clear and natural maturity could be traced.

As a fan, I can appreciate that their work has grown up as I have. The same issues are discussed, heartbreak (“Fallin’ Apart”), mild injustice (“Real World”), and lust (“I Wanna”) among them; but they are told from a different, newer perspective.
In many cases, artists become bored or restless with themselves around this phase of their careers, and AAR is no exception. I believe they have consciously made an effort to lay groundwork for more diverse future projects ¾ projects that will continue to be supported by their fans.

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