WEB EXCLUSIVE: Rejects ‘Move Along’ in bad direction after promising debut

Ben Breier

The All-American Rejects

Move Along

Interscope Records

Stater Rating: (out of four): *

The punk-pop antics of Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects couldn’t have possibly debuted at a better time. When their first, self-titled record was released in 2003, it definitely stood out among a sea of crap, defined by bands such as New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, A Simple Plan, and Something Corporate.

This simplistic emo outfit out of Stillwater, Okla., surprised many by delivering straight-forward pop music with vocals possessing a youthful quality that other bands tried to mimic, but failed, mostly due to the fact that all these other lead singers were losers bordering on their 30s.

So what went wrong? Quite simply, the Rejects let their fame go to their head. They dumped their joint-label venture with Doghouse Records in favor of corporate conglomerate Interscope Records for their sophomore effort, Move Along.

After hearing the first few tracks from the album, one thing becomes absolutely clear: this isn’t about a couple of kids out to make pop music anymore. By allowing themselves to grow up way too fast in the past two years, the Rejects have lost so much of what makes them memorable and appealing.

The band desperately tries to channel sounds of its previous record. “Stab My Back” desperately wants to be this record’s equivalent of “Swing, Swing,” right down to the tempo breaks, song length, and vocal climaxes. Things like this occurring at a Rolling Stones reunion show are much more understandable, but these guys are still in their early 20s, and shouldn’t have trouble highlighting their youth, allowing for a sad state of affairs.

On tracks like “It Ends Tonight,” the band is simply guilty of trying too hard to branch out. The heartfelt ballad track is notably absent from the Rejects’ debut record — and after hearing this song, it’s apparent why. Devoid of any emotion or sensation, this track is an insult to ballads everywhere, despite the fact that the track has some of those “deep” instruments that the emo kids like so much. Who would have thought about playing up some melancholy violins and misanthropic piano chords on an emotional song? Oh, my! Kudos to innovation, All-American Rejects!

In fact, nearly one out of every two tracks on this record feature a violin. If the disgusting display of sappy violins on “It Ends Tonight” wasn’t enough, listeners are practically molested by staccato strings on the following track, “Change Your Mind.” It’s blatantly clear how this record is designed: violins are supposed to spawn feelings of introspective sadness, and if there are no violins, you must dance and be merry!

And by dance, I mean “gag me.”

The final track on the album, “Can’t Take it,” is the most blood-curdling of the lot. The boys sound more like themselves here, but the violins return (yet again) in maximum dramatic fashion. The offensive sound coming through the speakers sounds like a bizarre cross between Bush’s “Mouth” and a terrible ’80s power ballad.

No lies. I was really looking forward to this record on the basis that the original record conjured up so many memories of nostalgia and invoked happiness on all sorts of levels. However, after hearing the latest example of selling out in the record industry, I’m ready to hawk my All American-Rejects T-shirt as soon as possible. It’s a size small — any takers?

Contact general assignment reporter Ben Breier at [email protected].