They do one thing, and they do it well. On their second album, Move Along, Oklahoma’s All-American Rejects show an uncanny ability to write consistently upbeat rockers, or as singer Tyson Ritter says in an Alternative Press interview, “music that makes you feel good.”
Not quite pop-punk, the band’s music falls somewhere between geek-rock and emo, with a not-so-subtle penchant for the grandiose gestures of arena rock. For Move Along, the Rejects rip a huge page from Weezer’s Green Album catalogue: formulaic, highly glossed tracks such as the single, “Dirty Little Secret,” and “Stab My Back.” As Ritter says, “It’s fucking two guitars, a bass, a drum kit and a melody. Not a scream. Not something that you have to cry into. Something that makes you smile and leaves you with a good taste.”
That said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the record’s focus is not the vocals. The stock lyrics are too feel-good to be effective or memorable. The real cornerstone is their cheeky but un-ironic appreciation of seventies and eighties anthemic hard rock. “11:11,” a fast-moving song about last mistakes and other inoffensive high school diary entries, comes complete with fist-pumping chorus and ticking-clock sound effects. Add to that the climactic piano and full-audience sing-along on the title track and you’ve got Jimmy Eat World covering Def Leppard — overproduced and over-earnest, but damn catchy.
“Night Drive,” the album’s highlight, opens in typical cock-rock fashion: hand claps and foot stomps. They’re replaced by thick, polished guitars, and the whole thing, including the forgettable romanticized lyrics and Richie Sambora talk-box effect, is a little bit Weezer, a little bit Queen — not a terrible thing either way.
The by-the-book style and feel-good mantra of Move Along may turn away those looking for something deeper. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before. But for those inclined to bring back the great rock sing-along, to simply rock-out and nothing more, the infectious, anthemic nature of the album doesn’t so much creep in as stand up and, with huge guitars and exuberant choruses, demand to be noticed.