Dear Lord, why have you forsaken us? First of all you gave us Busted, then you took Busted away. We gave you thanks. For some reason, you saw it right that you should then bestow upon us Busted-lite in the form of McFly. We began to doubt your existence. For some reason your people lost their minds and started to proclaim that these were punk bands. Now in punishment for doubting you, you’ve given us The All-American Rejects. You’ve really got the whole vengeful God thing down pat.
It is truly astounding that the All American Rejects will probably be proclaimed as a punk band. They are not. They are a pop band that have been given nice shiny guitars and a distortion pedal to give their music, and therefore the band members themselves some kind of edge.
Move Along has an unnatural sheen to it, and we’re not just talking about the oddly plastic looking hairstyles on the cover. These songs are supposed to sound like rock, but there is something missing, something vital. Some might call it balls, others attitude – bass players would probably call it bottom end. Whatever ‘it’ is (and this album definitely lacks balls, attitude, heart and bass) The All-American Rejects forgot to mention it when they were brain storming what it is that makes a good rock album.
Put it this way – The All-American Rejects decided that opening the awful Night Drive with a hook from Bay City Rollers‘ Saturday Night would be a good move. Surely everyone knows that Bay City Rollers never made a good record, let alone a good rock record. Having said that, the band do open this album up with a song named Dirty Little Secret – a song whose lyrics sound like the kind of thing a creepy uncle might say:”I’ll keep you my dirty little secret, don’t tell anyone/or you’ll be just another regret, who has to know?”. Perhaps these boys are more familiar with the work of the Bay City Rollers than they’re letting on.
Aside from the vapid rock songs, The All American Rejects are not beyond trying their hand at power ballads. The power ballad is one of the hardest types of song to do well. The pitfalls are myriad, and all too often bands end up with egg on their face and a clumsy seven-minute song that is unintentionally hilarious.
Thankfully, Straitjacket Feeling isn’t seven minutes long (mercifully it’s shorter). It is a terribly self-important mess though. You can’t give a song weight simply by adding a string section – it isn’t enough, there has to be an emotional base to build upon first. Perhaps the worst crime of all is that there isn’t even a laugh to be had, intentional or otherwise.
The simple truth is that Move Along is a poor album, regardless of whether it is a pop or a rock record. It is guilty of trying too hard, and perhaps it’s a romantic idea, but music that really affects people sounds effortless. Move Along sounds like a contrived, awkward construction job from the first bar to the last.
Perhaps the one thing to remember about this band is their name. The All-American Rejects. Even America didn’t want them – that should tell you all you need to know.