CDs Revisited: Motion City Soundtrack - 'Commit This to Memory'

via Amazon
I have a much more complicated relationship with this record than necessary. I've gone back and forth on whether I like it or not, though most of my indecision has less to do with the music itself and a lot to do with the emotions and memories I have associated with this particular album.

Let me back up: I absolutely loved I Am the Movie. At the time when I bought it, it was Motion City Soundtrack's only commercially available LP and I still hadn't fully grasped the idea that I could use the internet to buy or download literally anything (to clarify: this was 2004 and I had already used the internet to buy or download plenty of things, but using it as my first resource to get things still hadn't become an everyday thing), so even though I was aware that the band's early releases existed I was content with listening only to this one album over and over. Then I got to see Motion City Soundtrack on the 2005 Epitaph tour (alongside Matchbook Romance and From First to Last). They had announced that they were releasing a new album and they played a few songs ("Better Open the Door" and "Time Turned Fragile," if my memory serves me). I loved those songs and I couldn't wait to hear the rest of it.

On its release day, I went straight to Best Buy and headed straight to their CD section (this is something that I did often in high school on Tuesdays and I already knew where to go). I picked it up immediately and went to the check out. The whole process couldn't have been longer than 10 minutes, and that was only because there were people waiting in front of me at the register. I even remember the employee at the front door saying "wow, that was really fast." and me giving him a "I knew exactly what I wanted to get" shrug.

Then I listened to it and... well, I wouldn't say I hated it, but my initial reaction was definitely closer to feeling let down and than it was overjoyed. I really liked the songs I had already heard (in addition to the two they'd played live, I had become familiar with "When "You're" Around" from their acoustic split with Matchbook Romance), but overall it felt different. But dammit, I loved their first album, and I was going to love this one too. I forced myself to listen to it over and over, and even though it never fully clicked with me for the rest of high school, but I do remember playing it for my then-girlfriend on the train ride to school and that she had a very strong reaction to the jump from "Make Out Kids" to "Time Turned Fragile." And her surprise that the album had been produced by Mark Hoppus caught me off guard- she was normally so up-to-date on news like that.

Going to college is what really killed this album for me. That's not entirely accurate, but it was in college when I stopped listening to the band. I started dating a girl my freshman year who liked this album and our relationship dissolved right around the same time that Even If It Kills Me came out. Not that we had a close enough relationship that we had to divide our CD collections, but when we broke up it sort of felt like this band had become hers, and whenever I tried to listen to them all I could ever think about was the time we were driving back from the Poughkeepsie Galleria because I felt sick and she wasn't talking to me and put on Motion City Soundtrack to fill the silence. Her not talking to me and my feeling sick were likely related to each other, and for years I couldn't sever that connection between Motion City Soundtrack and my ex.

It wasn't until sometimes between the releases of My Dinosaur Life and Go that I came back around to this album. And for at least the last four years I've consistently been able to listen to this album without the worry of associating it with any former lovers. Of course, lately I've been worrying about how closely I can relate to some of the lyrics more than I ever could before but that's another issue altogether.

You can stream Commit This to Memory below.


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