There’s a saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Unfortunately, this saying applies in a way to pop-punk band The All-American Rejects. Their fourth studio release Kids In the Street only perpetuates this malady.
AAR basically started out as a promising emo-tinged alternative-punk band from Stillwater, OK. Over time, their relatively accessible sound got them some mainstream attention—particularly with hits like “Move Along” and “Gives You Hell.” From that point, it seems like AAR has catered more to the pop audience, keeping just a little bit of an edge, but aiming more for radio-friendly tunes.
The result of this fence-straddling is really that The All-American Rejects now stand as one of the most mediocre bands, whatever genre you happen to classify them in. The hardline punk and alternative crowd will barely mention their name, yet they don’t make very good pop music either. They are charting, but they aren’t making much of an impact in any camp. This band has lost its way.
When Kids In the Street came out, my hopes were rekindled for AAR, howbeit briefly. The opening riffs and screams in “Someday’s Gone” are surprisingly reminiscent of AAR’s roots. But alas, it doesn’t stay. As the album progresses, it delves ever deeper into murky territory that blends elements of punk and pop, but belongs squarely in neither. By the time we hit the closing tracks—hell, I don’t even know what to call this. ‘60’s style violins? Calypso beats? Come on, guys, really?
Honestly, there is not one track on this album I can truthfully recommend. It all bleeds together in one hopeless morass, lacking in both hooks and hutzpah. As it turns out, this is a case when mainstream success might have been the worst thing to happen to The All-American Rejects. We can only hope they will one day find their way back.
ALBUM RATING: 1.5 stars (out of five)