Making Moves, the newest release by Minnesotan scene veterans Motion City Soundtrack, might serve as the capstone on a series of MCS-produced 7”s by up-and-coming indie acts released in conjunction with Drexel University’s Mad Dragon Records, but it certainly doesn’t feel celebratory. Instead, the 7” continues the contemplative mood the band embraced on this summer’s full-length Go. Still, while that album took a wistful, sentimental look at life and its meaning, Making Moves is unrelentingly, oppressively dour; where the former found a sense of peace in finality, the mood here alternates between mopey resignation and a whole lot of jitters.
Not that any of the songs on Making Moves are individually unworthy. The best of the bunch, the punchy “Major Leagues”, finds vocalist Justin Pierre questioning the meaning of success over Morse-code guitar bleats and a galloping Tony Thaxton drumbeat that wouldn’t feel out of place among My Dinosaur Life’s more aggro numbers. “Severance” opens as a spare lamentation with Pierre opining obliquely on loneliness and a self-doubt that touches on loathing, before building to crescendo on the back of a soaring, roaring Joshua Cain guitar solo. And if the finale, a dutiful cover of Rilo Kiley’s maudlin “Pictures Of Success”, doesn’t bring much new to the party, it at least apes the original capably; the slightly slower pacing the band opts for and the keening timbre of Pierre’s vocals render Motion City Soundtrack’s rendition perhaps even a touch more lachrymose than the source material, if that’s possible.
The problem is that, collectively, the three tracks here add up to ten minutes of misery that feel like an hour (and would prove completely unbearable at any greater length). Motion City Soundtrack are no strangers to the ‘long dark night of the soul’ (see Commit This To Memory’s “Together We’ll Ring In the New Year” for one shining example) but with no light at all at the end of the tunnel here, the whole affair proves too bleak to be enjoyed. Making Moves provides the leaden counterweight to Go’s extended arm, making for a bit of not-unwelcome, if unnecessary, balance when paired with its predecessor. But as a self-contained listening experience, this 7” can’t help but sink under its own soggy, sour weight.