The All-American Rejects had us worried there for a while. The public was sure that the band who brought us the ever-catchy “Swing, Swing” would be a one-hit wonder when other singles on their first album flopped, but the boys are back in town with part deux of their energetic pop-punk career. Move Along opens with jarring guitar chords and lead singer Tyson Ritter’s characteristic howl in their first single, “Dirty Little Secret” that, despite the song’s sordid message, manages to creep into the hearts of listeners.
For the majority of their album, the Rejects can do no wrong. Their lyrics contain the right mix of bitterness and fun to appeal to the pop-punk audience, and instrumentals tie the songs together into tidy, emotion-riddled packages. The pace quickens and slows in well-spaced intervals that make the album go down easy in one listen.
The band’s strength lies in their ability to balance piercing, poignant lyrics with upbeat background music that can make even the most heart-wrenching songs tolerable compared to traditional emo-the oft-depressing, slower cousin of the pop-punk genre. Screeching guitars and pounding drums such as in “I’m Waiting” lend Ritter’s voice the appropriate support to convey pain without overbearing angst. However, when songs lack the acrid tone that dominates the album, AAR truly shines, such as in “Dance Inside.”
AAR is at their best in the rocking tunes that become their singles, but as a young band, they have room to grow. In Move Along, they’ve demonstrated their capacity to do so, which may be the key to the stardom they missed upon their debut.
Hannah Bae can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.