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The All-American Rejects

Move Along (Interscope)


At best, the All-American Rejects inspire qualified praise. Their champions say things like "Solid stuff, if you're just looking for fun" or "Other bands have done this better, but Blink-182 broke up, and Weezer's new singles are virulently stupid, so here we are." their detractors waste time, because the evolutionary process takes care of cute, guitar-wielding kids. Either they alter their sound in an ambitious fashion, attracting cautious converts while fickle teens flee, or they disappear from mainstream view. Fellow Oklahoma natives Hanson proved it's possible to do both.

Move Along places one foot in the young group's grave. Its choruses seem huge, mostly because the band mutes its verses into oblivion. Tyson Ritter's arbitrary accent (which prevents "away" from rhyming with "stay") is annoying, but that's just a symptom of a group that's been diagnosed as derivative. Lacking even the faux-rebellious sneers of its Warped brethren, the Rejects come off as nice yet boring.

When not playing at prom-ballad pace, the Rejects manage to come alive. Ritter's voice cracks and soars when freed from midtempo drudgery, and his knack for orchestral closers (the debut disc's "Last Song" and Move Along's genuinely great "Can't Take It") suggests that he has the range for melodramatic symphonic productions. Perhaps he could evolve into a standards-crooning popular vocalist, the surest route to career longevity. The rest of the Rejects might want to sharpen their session skills.

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