The All-American Rejects are back with their fourth studio album, Kids in the Street, which finds frontman Tyson Ritter exploring themes of regret, nostalgia, and of course, the rock-star dream of excess.
The album opens with “Someday’s Gone,” which features brash, crunchy guitars as Ritter’s emo-pop vocals provide a verbal takedown of an ex-lover as he questions, “What makes you so damn sure that you’re perfect, huh?.” It becomes very clear early on that love and loss are themes woven throughout the entire album with AAR’s brand of hook-friendly melodies and potent rhythmic energy even as they play with a more new-wave sound.
On “Heartbeat Slowing Down,” Ritter proves immense charm thanks in part to his lyrical delivery — especially as the song crescendos at the 2:50 mark when he tugs on the heart-strings a bit with some spectacular whining as he reaches his emotional breaking point. It’s powerful just because it’s so relatable.
Elsewhere on the album, “Walk Over Me” and “Fast and Slow” are reminiscent of the flamboyant brand of pop we’ve come to expect from AAR, but they tweak the formula just enough to not sound repetitive of anything that’s come previously. In fact, they rely more on their rock chops than on the usual Top 40 blend.
If you’re expecting an entire album similar to the band’s massive hits “Move Along” or “Gives You Hell” you’ll probably be disappointed. While there are sing-a-long worthy type tracks, see first single “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” it’s pretty obvious the Rejects made a conscious decision to stretch themselves musically on Kids in the Street. At times it works, at times it doesn’t, but we’ll never fault a band for trying.
Standout Tracks: “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” “Fast and Slow,” “Heartbeat Slowing Down.”