All American Rejects are back from an extended break, to release their first album in four years, Kids in the Street.

With that, All American Rejects release a rather timid album with strong lyrics but diluted melodies. They try to expand their sound a little bit. You can experience that in Beekeeper’s Daughter, with an empathetic chorus and a bit of ska leanings with horns and orchestral string sounds. Affection is a nice little ballad that cries back to small intimate-room crooners of the 60′s, with a twinge of background vocals and strings elongating the song. But everything is so bland and cookie-cutter, and a lot of that has to do with the exaggerated production style, done over by Greg Wells, the guy famous for turning Adele into a sensation, and methodically crafting her sound from intimate brooding melody-infused balladry to overtly top 40- for better or worse.


So no longer is All American Rejects a quaint pop group, but they are high-production meticulously crafted top 40 pop- an argument you probably could have made with 2005′s Move Along. But where that album balanced the production well, here it feels hollow. It’s not that high production is bad, but when the lyrics cry for something more intimate, it’s clashing to hear such a bombastic nature to a song that could be acoustic to a greater benefit. I For You is a simple little ballad that closes the record with brilliance, and this speaks to an energy fitting for the song and perhaps the album as a whole.


So things are slick and super-grossly clean, and the group tries a few new things. Heartbeat Slowing Down is a standout here, meticulously balancing the excellent eccentricities of front man Tyson Ritter’s voice, while single-handedly dealing us a chorus that speaks far more about the band and their style than anything previous. Someday’s Gone does have arguably the best chorus on the record. It rightly builds into a nice crescendo and remains a nice opening to the more introspective lyrical qualities of the album.


Yet Kids in the Street is not without its duds. Out the Door is just a weak song on almost every level. Bleed Into Your Mind is this bizarre little track that never takes off, and just sort of spins its wheels. It feels like it lasted 5 minutes+ and it rests just under 2.

All American Rejects are obviously modestly talented. 2008′s When the World Comes Down was masterful pop-rock, and showed knowledge of the genre many contemporaries failed to grasp. Kids in the Street isn’t necessarily a step forward, it’s just a step to the left. They experimented, and that term is very loosely used, with some different ideas. They over-produced songs unnecessarily, and delivered some comfortable little forgettable songs among a few key additions to their discography. For a pop/rock group, that isn’t all too bad. Yet in the whole scheme of things, what has All American Rejects said about addiction, excess, frustration, and regret that’s all that better than what has been said very recently?


Image Source, “All American Rejects” Kids in the Street Album Cover, 2012