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coverpic flag US - Oklahoma - Full Moon 84 - 08/12/03

The All-American Rejects
The All-American Rejects

The first time I listened to The All-American Rejects (AAR) I thought that they were terrible, and really hated them. Hell, even before I listened to them I had an intense dislike of them because of their name (I mean you can't get much cornier than "All-American Rejects" can you...), and because of the fact that most of my female friends were absolutely crazy about the looks of the lead singer/songwriter Tyson Ritter. So when they all went to see them live I absolutely refused to go, and listening to their descriptions of the show ("Tyson took his shirt off!!! He's just so dreamy!") I knew that I made the right choice.

Time went by and somehow I found myself listening to their lead single "Swing Swing" on my computer (I obviously forgot to delete it). To my great surprise, I didn't mind it at all; I still disliked the falsetto vocals of the verses but in the chorus "Swing Swing from the tableside of my heart" everything came together and I found myself humming along. Then, due to advice from the above-mentioned female friends I listened to a few more songs, and didn't mind them either. The thing that kept me listening in those times was that their music was just so different than the lush orchestrated folk/pop that I usually listened to. And that they seemed to actually mean what they were singing about.

One day when I was in a really rubbish mood, looking through a music shop I decided to buy the self titled AAR CD, and I loved it. All songs except for one deal with various aspects of heartbreak, breaking up, loneliness, and a whole host of other Emo subjects grinded to death on every single release by every Emo band. But the AAR manage to pull it off somehow. They sound meaningful and emotional without being whiny, hurt without appearing on the verge of tears, and real. They manage to create a very dense atmosphere in most of their songs but still vary it enough so they don't sound repetitive. They're loud (i.e. "Don't Leave Me") but still very melodic (i.e. "My Paper Heart") and most important, they sound utterly together as a professional band and not just some kids putting pages of their diaries to music. The flow of the songs is organic, with no decided peaks or troughs, which adds to the feeling of the album being a whole as opposed to a collection of random songs.

I don't know if the AAR grew on me, or I grew on the AAR but their album definitely found a place in my CD rotation. Best appreciated when you are down, almost as good when you are up, such good Emo that I would even give them the honour of not being classified as Emo (which I tend to dislike), but just as emotional indie rock. Corny as it may sound, don't judge a book by its cover and give the AAR a spin or two or twenty and eventually you'll come to appreciate the solid debut. Just one thing still bothers me (besides the falsettos that make me cringe sometimes); how does Tyson (who's admittedly cute albeit in the just stepped out of a Mandy Moore film way) know so much about being dumped...

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