Review: Motion City Soundtrack — Making Moves

Reviews / December 21, 2012

Motion City Soundtrack stumbles in closure to 7″ ‘Making Moves’ series

Mad Dragon Records/The Boombox Generation

To close out their very own 7″ single series, titled Making Moves, Motion City Soundtrack has put together an interesting collection of songs, which at its best, displays the band’s continuing progression, and at its worst, feels like something the group has done several times before. The double-sided single begins with “Severance,” the standout track amongst the three selections and one in which the influences of their latest full length, Go, are readily present. Utilizing a minimalistic musical approach, the subdued track slowly builds, focusing on Justin Pierre’s haunting vocals and his story concerning the fragile nature of relationships. He sings, “The uncertainty is looming/Every heart rents a lonely room/This fever is forever/I’m not ready when they sever/You from me, it will be too soon,” in a tempo which plays out more like a confessional than your typical MCS song. The sophisticated distribution of energy, similar to that of Go‘s “Happy Anniversary,” is marked progression for the group, especially when considering its differences from much of their chaotic, early material.

On the B-side we find “Major Leagues,” a track that while entertaining, is something we’ve already seen from the group. Even the arrangement reminds one of songs from the band’s back catalog, specifically tracks like “Can’t Finish What You Started” and “Time Turned Fragile.” Again, the song is not necessarily a miss, but if you’ve witnessed their other endeavors within this pattern, you’ll feel like you’ve heard it before. And after leading off with “Severance,” I found myself wanting to see that experimental direction continued. By now, songs like “Major Leagues” are ones the band can seemingly push out with little effort.

With the third track, which is a digital bonus, we see the band covering Rilo Kiley’s “Picture Of Success.” Besides cutting down the original song’s intro, Motion City keeps the majority of the original treatment, even the subdued vocal delivery. And while it results in a serviceable cover, you do wish the band had taken a few more liberties with the arrangement, giving it their signature touch. There’s really no reason to bypass the original version in this case.

Sound Quality: With Making Moves being Motion City Soundtrack’s project from the very beginning, you’d expect the sound quality attached to their entry to be of at least the same standard as prior releases. Unfortunately, when spinning the record, you’re treated to a less than impressive mix, in which Tony Thaxton’s always stellar percussion sits too far in the background, while the band’s trademark use of synth is again, slightly lost. As a positive, though, the vocals are extremely crisp, especially in
“Severance.” But as was previously stated, the recording doesn’t portray the energy in which is constantly present within the band’s releases. Other entries in the series have sounded excellent, so this proved to be quite the surprise.

Packaging: As with all entries in the series, packaging for the 7″ is extremely simple. Lacking an inner sleeve or lyric insert, the record’s label is visible with the cut out cover. Credits are then listed on both sides of the label, providing at least a little of the information usually found on your standard insert. An inner sleeve (perhaps cut in the same design), would have been preferable to allow for increased sustainability, though. If you have some extra inner sleeves, make sure to throw those on so the records aren’t just moving around whenever you spin an entry of Making Moves.

Extras: A digital download is included with the record, which also features the bonus track, “Picture Of Success.” The single was pressed on purple vinyl (with some black streaks), keeping with the rainbow color scheme the series has maintained. The spread has included red (The Company We Keep); highlighter yellow (Brick + Mortar); green (Goldrush); teal (A Great Big Pile Of Leaves); and blue (The Skies Revolt). Mad Dragon Records and The Boombox Generation has also offered a box-set of all the 7″ entries, which includes a 90-minute documentary, a poster and a USB with all the songs on it.

Summary: With their entry in Making Moves — the band’s very own 7″ single series — Motion City Soundtrack stumbles slightly, especially in the latter two tracks. Luckily, the A-side, titled “Severance” saves the record from being a loss, as its confession-like nature represents something quite new from the group. The included cover is serviceable, but lacks any differing characteristics to force you to pick it over the original. In regard to the physical package, the sound quality for the 7″ leaves much to be desired. Overall, the Making Moves series has been highly enjoyable, though, with both established groups and up-and-coming artists allowed to gain new fans. Hopefully, the series continues at some point in the future.

Make Sure To Spin: “Severance” & “Picture Of Success”

Previous Making Moves reviews:
The Company We Keep (read)
Brick + Mortar (read)
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves (read)
Goldrush (read)
The Skies Revolt (read)

You can pick up the record individually over at Interpunk. You can pick up the entire series at Blue Collar Distro.

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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