October 8, 2018 Justin Courtney Pierre – In The Drink (Album Review)
He has been the movie, he has had a dinosaur life, and he has also committed a bunch of stuff to memory. Prepare yourself: for 2018, Justin Courtney Pierre is In The Drink. You can find out what that all means on Friday, October 12, 2018, when the former-Motion City Soundtrack vocalist delivers his solo debut via Epitaph Records.
For nearly the past two decades, Justin Courtney Pierre has been fronting the fabulously fun Motion City Soundtrack. You can call them Pop Punk or Emo, Alt Rock or whatever, but you have to love the Moog synth-driven, infectious insanity that the band has produced on their six full-length studio offerings. From their stunning 2003 debut, I Am the Movie, to 2015’s Panic Stations, the band has authored a lengthy catalog of music that is always reinventing itself and constantly fun. That is, until 2016, when the boys decided to say au revoir to Motion City Soundtrack in order to pursue other endeavors – musical and otherwise.
So, what is a talented dude to do without a band? Go solo, duh! Prepared to continue the non-stop musical insanity for years to come, Justin Courtney Pierre delivers his first solo venture, In The Drink. The 10-song collection was produced by Motion City Soundtrack bandmate and compadre Joshua Cain (Metro Station, Sing It Loud) and features Pierre manning all instrumental duties save for drums – which are provided by the talented David Jarnstrom (Gratitude, BNLX).
In the Drink begins with Pierre sounding angelic on “Undone,” where experimental layers blend bizarrely dissonant sounds – from synths that echo as flutes and varying percussion to garage-y feedback and horns. Oh, and that Taco Tuesday mention? Mucho delicioso! Next, “Anchor” goes for a more straightforward, hip-swaying Rock approach that feels dusted in 1990’s Alternative Rock. (Whatever the case, at least Pierre knows not to infuriate us womenfolk!) He continues this sound and builds toward infectiousness on the catchy bopper “I Don’t Know Why She Ran Away.”
Lackadaisical rocker “Moonbeam” is a saccharine sweet respite in the name of catching lunar particles for the one we love. Taking its name from the Ernest Cline novel, “Ready Player One” goes bass-heavy in the name of sloughing off fear; though there are no Sci-Fi vibes here, just a straight-up, energetic rocker. Unfortunately, the high does not continue, and Pierre dials it way back down for the punctuated, gentle pace of “I’m A Liar,” which takes a moment to shimmer while making some blunt confessions.
Up next, grungy sonics weave over and around Pierre’s vocals on “Sooner” before the bass-heavy licks of “Shoulder The Weight” beg you to sway your hips and bop your head. Thankfully, this upbeat-ness continues on “In the Drink,” a catchy rocker that is guaranteed to make you dance across the bar. It’s also the most Motion City Soundtrack-esque track on the collection, if you will. Ultimately, however, it’s time to “hit the lights and get to bed, it’s been a long day.” Or so begins the aptly-titled “Goodnight Hiroyuki,” a crunchy lullaby full of distorted atmospherics that ends the collection on a subtle electronic note.
In The Drink feels like a trip to the ‘90s, rocking out in the garage with overly-distorted sounds, trying to find one’s musical identity – which is totally fine for a first-time solo journey. In fact, the album is short, clocking in at roughly 26 minutes, and offers merely a taste of what one might expect from the future of Justin Courtney Pierre’s career. Which is nothing bad and there is clearly no reason to despair, yet it all seems a little un-monumental, lacking in fanfare, if you will.
There is something deeper inside Pierre that is still hiding out, waiting to rear its crazed and inspired head – and so we’re just going to have to wait for that sonic beast to arrive. For now, In The Drink is a fun little aperitif, but definitely not the main course. Celebrating Taco Tuesday all week long, CrypticRock give Justin Courtney Pierre’s In The Drink 3.5 of 5 stars.