Most helpful positive review
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2012
Back in 2002 when AAR first released their debut they reminded me of some 1980's bands that I grew up on as a kid. Of course, they were, and still are, the direct descendents of Blink 182 right down to the note. I like the band, but when I read that they are someone else's favorite band I cringe. I mean, how can a band that is so derivative of other bands before them be someone's favorite band?
Sadly, over the past decade, AAR have not really lived up to the potential I at first thought they had. They have pretty much played it safe, and they only released four albums over the past ten years. Strangely, for a band that consists of guys who grew up in Oklahoma they sound very L.A. They do not embrace their roots like Kings of Leon. And so, AAR remain an enjoyable snack rather than a full course meal.
This is not to say that the band has not tried, because they have. Beginning with their last album "When The World Comes Down", they started playing with their sound, tweaking it here and there with good results. Lyrically, the band is crippled by adolescent desires and college partying. They do not reach for something more meaningful or spiritual, they just stick with childish and naive lyrical outlooks. It is this alone that arrests the true development of this band. They could have been so much further along by now. I mean, Pink can run circles around these guys lyrically.
So here is "Kids In The Street", their fourth album. I bought the deluxe version with the bonus tracks. I went back and listened to all the other AAR albums to keep my criticism fresh. I listened to the new album over the past three weeks multiple times. I gave "Kids In The Street" more than enough time to marinate in my brain cells.
"Someday's Gone" and "Beekeeper's Daughter" are updated versions of the AAR sound--they are instantly identifiable as traditional AAR tracks. "Fast And Slow" is more unusual with its chorus and instrumentation. I liked it, it was something slightly different. The album's power ballad, "Heartbeat Slowing Down" showcases the band's ability to do a melodic love song (or break up song). "Walk Over Me" and "Out The Door" seem like throwaway filler. Dumb party songs.
"Kids In The Street" is a nostalgic look back at one's childhood and finds the band trying something new musically. It's one of the better tracks here. "Bleed Into Your Mind" and "Gonzo" are the two single best tracks here. They show what the band might have done had they had the gall to really go for something different. The band rounds out the regular version of the album with two more ballads, but these are not your typical power ballads. "Affection" is atypical for the band and continues the daring of "Bleed Into Your Mind" and "Gonzo". While "I For You" is a nice acoustic ballad of unrequited love.
Two bonus tracks are demos of songs already appearing in finished form on the regular album, "Someday's Gone" and "Bleed Into Your Mind" and they aren't worth much. The two other tracks "Drown Next To Me" and "Do Me Right" are interesting diversions showing another side of the band. Especially the nearly seven minute "Drown Next To Me"--unusual and intriguing from a band known for their slick, short pop songs.
So with "Kids In The Street" the band experiences growing pains. Will they broaden their musical horizons or just keep repeating the same old formula that has worked for them in the past? I liked "Kids In The Street" better than their debut and "Move Along" and felt it pretty much equaled "When The World Comes Down". While I still believe the band has a ways to go in terms of artistic merits--and someone compared them to Cheap Trick (and they haven't earned anywhere near the musical credentials of Cheap Trick!), they are showing signs of wanting to try other things and this part of them I like. All the best bands have been able to capitalize on their sound while incorporating new musical elements. Again, AAR show potential that just hasn't been realized yet.
Here's how "Kids In The Street" compares to AAR's previous works:
2002 The All-American Rejects: Three and a Half Stars
2005 Move Along: Two and a Half Stars
2008 When The World Comes Down: Four Stars
2012 Kids In The Street: Four Stars