If the sonic landscape of the early aughts could be distilled into a single group it’d be The Movielife. Equal parts pop punk, emo, and post hardcore, their album This Time Next Year feels like the soundtrack to one of the many teen comedy films that dominated theaters at the time. Catchy and fast, but with just enough edge to feel rebellious, popmatters described the album as melding “emo/indie-rock, hardcore, and pop seamlessly.” Revelation Records promotes the album as “a harmonious mix of the catchiest parts of pop and indie rock blended together with a noticeable hardcore edge.” So why didn’t The Movielife join the post-hardcore pantheon? Grab your library card and listen for yourself here on the library’s very own music streaming service, Freegal. If you’re unfamiliar with Freegal or would like to know more about the service you can read all about it in my “Easing into E-Resources” post.
The Movielife are yet another band that should have blown up. However, as the case seems to be with a slew of acts around this period they failed to rise through a sea of bands all embracing a similar sound and aesthetic. Formed in 1997 from veterans of the Long Island scene, The Movielife released their first album It's Go Time in 1997, and followed it in October of 2000 with This Time Next Year. During their heyday they would tour with titans like Brand New, New Found Glory, and even Good Charlotte.
The title track is the real standout here and should have pushed the band to the front of the scene. The leading guitar riff is outrageously infectious and the syncopated rhythm supporting it adds depth and aggression. The structure of the track simply rocks and delivers massive amounts of energy. Vinnie Caruana’s vocals are articulate but strained. Nestled into the mix, the performance remains melodic but on the edge of breaking up.
Some of the best tracks work similarly, blending hardcore and pop punk sensibilities seamlessly. “Pinky Swear” for instance, opens with an aggressive hardcore push that unexpectedly morphs into a melodic Blink-182esque verse. The combination of stomping hardcore breaks and sickly sweet choruses add a captivating dynamic to The Movielife’s sound.
Lyrical themes are diverse, ranging from break up songs to laments about the grind of being a working class band. "Once in a Row" leads out with an infectious melody about maintaining focus and motivation, "Plenty of time to ruin my life, so why start now?." There's nothing overly sappy or dramatic about The Movielife's lyrics and most songs use direct language to get right to the point. Listeners won't be scratching their heads at weighty metaphors but that's not a criticism, a good hook is worth a million words.
The group would go on to release another album in 2003 before breaking up and reuniting for another release in 2017. Their third album Forty Hour Train Back to Penn is a fantastic follow up that highlights their growth as songwriters both lyrically and compositionally.
So what do you think? Is This Time Next Year an overlooked gem or forgotten background noise? As always, if you enjoyed this review please check out some of my other Freegal posts right here on the library blog. And, if you enjoyed This Time Next Year I highly recommend Masquerade in the Key of Crime by The Stryder also available on Freegal.