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Album review: All-American Rejects' 'When the World Comes Down'

December 15, 2008 |  5:30 pm

Aar_240 The best thing about the All-American Rejects is how unambitious the pop-emo quartet is. The Rejects' supremely bratty yet relentlessly hooky singles have each seemed destined to score teenage rom-com dance party sequences for time immortal, and it hasn't hurt that their emo-Adonis frontman Tyson Ritter has cheekbones that could slice bread.

The band's new record, "When the World Comes Down," broadens the palette a bit, leavening typically cocky choruses like "I want to touch you / you want to touch me too" with synthesizer pricks and jaunty string arrangements befitting Ritter's avowed love of musicals. Ponderous and overproduced moments like "Damn Girl" and "Back to Me" suggest soaring earnestness and slower tempos are a drag on the band's sense of spunk. But the kick-start rockers like "Fallin' Apart" and the gleeful kiss-off "Gives You Hell" benefit from the new breathing room.

Modern emo bands tend to treat breakups with a severity worthy of Wagner. Ritter's penchant for hummable nastiness is a vast improvement, and lines like "Truth be told I miss you / truth be told I'm lying" are a better representation of actual teenage-dom: snide, vindictive and rarely unentertaining.

The Rejects are best at small ideas with a long shelf life. "World" forgets that at points, but pretty people always get away with everything, don't they?

--August Brown

All-American Rejects
"When the World Comes Down"
(Interscope Records)
Two and a half stars

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