The All-American Rejects: The All-American Rejects (Dreamworks)

The Rejects (Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler) have ample voca and compositional skills, but Tim O’Heir has produced, mixed, and engineered this album straight to the seventh circle of TRL.

By Taylor Upchurch

For a pair of underage Oklahoma kids to even release a self-titled debut on Dreamworks is impressive. It’s a sign of possible massive stardom. Now it’s time for the All-American Rejects’ biggest obstacle: they’re young and letting Dreamworks put out an album for them.

The Rejects (Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler) have ample vocal and compositional skills, but Tim O’Heir has produced, mixed, and engineered this album straight to the seventh circle of TRL. It comes off as if the main influences are equal parts Blink 182 and Green Day (Blink 182 is influencing other bands now? God help us).

But don’t be fooled: there’s some interesting stuff going on here. A surprisingly searing guitar riff jumps up from nowhere toward the end of “Why Worry.” Inventive harmonies steal the show on “Don’t Look Back.” Nice small moments like these keep it worthwhile; there just need to be a few more of them.
Even for radio pop, there is a striking coexistence of sophisticated melody and junior-high lyrics. Sample: “Please speak slowly, my heart is learning/Teach me heartache, stop this burning.” Seriously. Couldn’t they have just listened to a little Pavement and tried again? Sub-question: in order for most bands to write songs like this, do they have to sit down and try to think like teenagers, or do they all still actually think like teenagers?

“Swing Swing” is supposed to be the album’s money shot. Really, I only say that because that’s what it says in the promotional press material, on MTV and the Point, and on the sticker on front of the CD case. I had a little trouble telling the difference myself. Here’s a depressing thing to say about a band: if they were packaged a little better, they’d be really terrific. Here’s hoping they run into the right people in the years ahead.

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