Motion City Soundtrack – ‘Panic Stations’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez


There is a certain way an album cover art can setup how a record will play out. There is definitely a reason as to why many death metal records feature violence, destruction and even Satan himself. One look at Panic Stations cover art and I felt it immediately. I had a sense of nostalgia, wonder and familiarity with just how mature Motion City Soundtrack’s new full length would be. It’s a simple way of portraying being trapped in a certain amount of chaos and feeling endless.

Then what does the album sound like, right? Motion City Soundtrack have never been a ban to write complex rock tunes. Their music has a certain bounce to it, often bringing synthesizers and guitar melodies to the forefront to have a fight for space between the vocal melodies. Their last album, Go, felt uninspired and without any kind of true passion behind it. From the starting gun of Panic Stations, ‘Anything At All’ storms out the gates with the same kind of charm that keeps Commit This To Memory relevant. There’s this punk rock swagger that The Gaslight Anthem possess and Panic Stations found that stable line between punk and rock ballads to keep the music exciting to hear.

Songs like ‘TKO’ and ‘Over It Now’ showcase a more monotonous approach from Pierre, breaking through the instruments with a more focus and raspy voice. It’s something I never really expected this band to bring to the table. ‘It’s A Pleasure To Meet You’ is memorable by it’s lush rhythm section. The bass is audible and adds more depth to the track. The drums wind around the chord progressions with an intricate pattern seen in hardcore groups builds. ‘Gravity’ finds a defeated Pierre coming to realize that everything around is can be attributed to his own doing. He sounds ready to break, frustrated and not approachable; and I love it.

There are some questionable songs though. ‘Lose Control’ feels like a Manchester Orchestra rip off and ‘Heavy Boots’ just is there, not one that gripped me, unlike it’s sonically similar counterpart ‘Broken Arrow.’ The band is relentless on the punk vibe songs all the way until the closing track, ‘Days Will Run Away.’ I personally was expecting this kind of a song to be found earlier on the LP, but it’s suitable as a closer. It is a passive end to a chapter of consistent releases by a great band. As the album comes to a close, the song grows in character and gets more frantic with the band fighting for space around one comfortable melody. 

Panic Stations is an enjoyable experience from front to back. It’s an LP not full of cheap love songs or uncanny, repetitive break up songs. It’s an album that takes Commit This To Memory’s brevity and throws in a decade of growth around it. It’s suitable for the group and a definite 10 steps back in the right direction of the scene. Motion City Soundtrack is back, and I am just happy the album has character enough to quench the thirst of fans alike.

Score: 8/10