1. Dirty Little Secret 2. Stab My Back 3. Move Along 4. It Ends Tonight
5. Change Your Mind 6. Night Drive 7. 11:11 P.M. 8. Dance Inside 9. Top Of The World
10. Straitjacket Feeling 11. I'm Waiting 12. Can't Take It
Label: Interscope Records / Release date: 7/12/2005
I think there are two kinds of bands in this new "pop punk" genre. You have the Good Charlotte, Blink-182, Simple Plan bands that have a whiny singer that squeals over two or three haphazardly arranged chords, and then you have bands like Bowling For Soup, Green Day, and American Hi-Fi that can write some of the most excellent power pop songs imaginable. It's all about songwriting for this genre. In the progressive rock genre you have artists that are so skilled instrumentally that you might not mind if the songwriting lacks a bit. But this is not a genre that is naturally stacked with instrumental talent. It's all about creative lyric play and catchy hooks with these artists. A lack of instrumental and vocal skill can be masked quite well if the inferior players and singers are performing a perfectly written song with inventive lyrics and a great hook.
It seems that these up-and-coming bands of the genre have either fallen into the "Great" bin or the "Awful" bin; there are not a lot of them that fall in the middle somewhere. Well, The All-American Rejects may be the first band of the genre to land in the "Decent" bin. Some of the songwriting is pretty good here, it just never reaches spectacular. Songs like "Dirty Little Secret," "Night Drive," "Change Your Mind," and "Top Of The World" are all well written songs, but they get lost in the repetitive nature of the band's sound. All of the songs here are the standard formula, with the band dropping a few nice hooks in here and there. Bassist/singer Tyson Ritter doesn't exactly have an irritating voice to listen to, it just lacks style, originality, and flavor. He's found singing every song in the same spirit here, with few exceptions. Even when the band ventures out in style by adding some string arrangements to the songs "Straightjacket Feeling" and "Can't Take It," Ritter stays in the same mode vocally. There are so many bands in this genre that sound the same, so it is vital to be creative lyrically or musically. Although the band has tried to set themselves apart a little bit with things like the string arrangements, the overall sound and attitude is the stereotypical "14-year old punk kid with a guitar" nonsense that we hear all too much of already.