The All-American Rejects have inhabited the radio for years, shifting through many different sounds in the four albums the band has put out over the past decade. In contrast to popular tracks such as “Dirty Little Secret” or “Gives You Hell,” many of the tracks on the band’s new album, Kids in the Street, seem like those of an entirely different band – however, to the open-minded listener, this newfound diversity in tone is a treat to listen to, demonstrating the versatility of a more mature, well-rounded band.
The softer playing of the electric guitar is borderline acoustic, and the soft drumming also does not create the bounce-along sounds of the previous albums. The softer music and more romantic lyrics shift the mood of this album away from the band’s previous work.
Songs such as “Bleed Into Your Mind” and “Heartbeat Slowing Down” are two examples of this dramatic shift. The soft call for love and acceptance into someone’s heart is more of a plea or a request rather than a demand. The confident claims of wooing girls, a staple of the band in quicker-paced songs off of past albums, has mostly disappeared. The tender entreaties in the entirely acoustic song “I for You,” in which the lyrics claim no one else can be a better match for the girl than the speaker, are perhaps an even more poignantly sentimental change of heart.
The more personal lyrics, especially in tracks like “Heartbeat Slowing Down,” show the soft underbelly of the band, never before exposed. The only track on this album that contains any negative connotation at all is “Someday’s Gone,” which points out the flaws of what seems to be an ended relationship. However, this track lacks the conviction and anger of “Gives You Hell,” making this rejection seem polite and reasonable in comparison.
In fact, much of the anger or passion of songs such as “Swing Swing” seems absent from this album. The band’s shift in sound from album to album seems to make it difficult to be a consistent fan. However, the versatility of the band definitely makes its next steps quite unpredictable.
This surprising nature shows up in “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” which juxtaposes a lyrical message supporting the attitude of hooking up and having fun with softer guitar and singing. With the lyrics even claiming “monogamy is not for me,” the use of the gentler instrumentation serves to contrast the somewhat callous attitude of the lyrics.
The presence of slow, soft music, coupled with personal lyrics is a strong presence in this album; however, tracks such as “Walk Over Me” and “Kids in the Street” have a faster set pace as is common with older tracks. “Walk Over Me” has harsher and louder electric guitar, along the lines of “Swing Swing.” Title track “Kids in the Street” seems to be a bit toned down, yet reminiscent of the bouncy tune of “Gives You Hell,” with added synth sound. Another similar and more upbeat track on the album is “Fast and Slow,” which has quicker-paced drum beats as well as female singing harmonies.
The versatility of the band is present within the album itself. The mixture of a few faster and more upbeat songs helps to break up the slow pace created by most other songs, giving this album a wide spectrum and balance in accordance with the band’s entire career. The band’s ability to change its sound from a soft ballad to a speaker-ripping guitar jam keeps the listener guessing when tuning in.
The All-American Rejects’ presence on the radio and on the charts over the years goes to show with all the different sounds this band spins, there’s a little something for everyone. Kids in the Street is a perfect example.