Panic Stations is a moment of change for Motion City Soundtrack. With one less member and a desire to go back to basics for the follow-up to Go, they set out to track the entire album live, in order to capture the energy of their live shows. From the moment Panic Stations starts, it’s obvious that this worked for them.
Panic Stations’ biggest improvement is in the uptempo songs. It’s a Pleasure To Meet You and Heavy Boots both benefit from the live recording process, with more raw energy captured in the guitars and vocals. While it’s not as apparent in the mid-tempos, they still benefit from the process, feeling less methodical and more emotional than before. Despite sticking to the same style they’ve always had, it feels fresh. Even without these improvements, the faster tracks are still the ones that stand out the most.
The only mid-tempo to really stand out is the distorted Lose Control; its chorus isn’t the strongest, but the rest of the song more than makes up for it. Opening track Anything At All takes the raw energy of the album and runs with it, but is mostly memorable thanks to the riffs and the specific synth accompaniment, which recurs a few times through the album but makes the best impression here. It’s a Pleasure To Meet You tops it though, building upon a strong chorus with stronger verses; the circular drum loop is particularly strong, coming in throughout the song but truly shining when when the song moves to its middle eight and the droning guitars come in.
While the newfound energy only really gets put to use on half of the album, it’s still a vast improvement across the board. It fixes the issues that made Go feel too methodical, and made something that authentically feels like an album from a pop punk band with an impressive live show. It doesn’t really do anything new or exciting in regards to its sound, but Panic Stations is a solid follow-up and a big improvement for Motion City Soundtrack.