I first discovered Motion City Soundtrack during my preteen years – back when I had no money for music or weed. I’d spend my weekends at the public library, picking out CDs based on their artwork just so I could take them home and try to discover new artists. If I liked one, I would burn one onto a Maxell CD-R so I could listen to it again and again. This is how I found the Pet Shop Boys and Incubus, but it’s also how I found Justin Pierre and his emo pop band from Minnesota.
The first Motion City Soundtrack album I ever listened to was 2007’s Even If It Kills Me, a life-changing piece of work that orchestrated the direction my musical tastes would take forever. I still have the first copy of the album I burned all those years ago – I still listen to it, I still remember where it skips in the exact same few spots. But after being so attached to it, I needed more. I took to the Internet to find their other albums and I downloaded them onto my MP3 player, an ancient piece of technology that held a little more than a 100 Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance songs. In no time at all, Motion City Soundtrack overtook everything else. Shortly after, Commit This To Memory overtook my existence.
It’s been 10 years since the album was released on Epitaph and I still love it to this day. I was introduced to it at the library (of course) and I still remember taking it home; tripping over my untied Converse shoelaces, still dressing and feeling the same – hopeless and lost, but still stupidly happy thanks to the occasional bursts of joy that came with life. I liked Motion City Soundtrack’s Commit This To Memory because it was an album that sounded like my thoughts. The lyrics rambled on, the guitars weren’t too loud or aggressive, and something about them was just relatable.
I was lost during my preteen years and struggling to get through puberty before I even knew what it was, and MCS somehow became the soundtrack to my life. Even though my drink was a corner store slushie at the time, lines like “As I gently sip this drink/ I think about my lack of future” felt like they were written for me. I still felt the doom and gloom of the future settling over my 12-year-old self and it was consuming me. But with this band, I at least felt like I wasn’t completely alone.
I did get the chance to see Motion City Soundtrack at Warped Tour in 2010 and I was severely crushed by the fact I didn’t catch a shirt from their t-shirt cannon, but Commit This To Memory is every thought I’ve ever had. It’s just my thoughts written down in a more eloquent way and set to music. “Everything Is Alright” still rings true a lot of the time – “I used to rely on self-medication/ I guess I still do that from time to time” – but the magnum opus and shining star was “L.G. FUAD”. It was a song that played in the background of most of my high school years, except for the ninth grade, which was dominated by “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Very few lyrics held my heart tighter than “Let me in, let me into the club/ ‘Cause I wanna belong” because I always did want to belong, but it didn’t really work that way.
Commit This To Memory seemingly had a song for everything and for every phase of my life. “When You’re Around” for when I was fighting with my ex; “Hold Me Down” for when I was ready for a break-up; and of course, “L.G. FUAD” for all my shopping cart-stealing, underage drinking adventures. “L.G. FUAD” was a hit single, but it was also the anthem for all of my struggles as a writer in college (“I’m addicted to words and they’re worthless”) and for all the times my friends and I would loiter around suburbia and break into abandoned houses (“Is this legal?/ I surely don’t know”). It’s a song that is so closely tied to my memories and experiences that it’s hard to believe other people can relate to it too. Like can they? Are there people out there that develop feels when they listen to “It Had To Be You”?
Commit This To Memory is a decade old but everything about it cuts as deep as it did the first time. I’ve never gotten sick of it because Motion City Soundtrack have earned the spot of being my favourite band. And they’ll always be one of my favourite bands. As much as I grew up with Fall Out Boy and became acquainted with Joyce Manor and The Menzingers , I didn’t love them the same as MCS. Not because of their singles or music videos or general aesthetic, but because it felt like they spoke to me and me alone. Lines like “I’m afraid, I’m alone and entirely useless” were there for me when I needed them most and even when things were totally not okay, they reassured everything was going to be alright.