The All-American Rejects have produced a great pop-rock and alt-rock catalog throughout their career. They seem to have found the perfect balance between pop production and instrumentation and rock influence. Every song on their album When the World Comes Down is catchy, and every song sounds like it could be on Top 40 radio. They attempt to innovate their genre of pop/rock with alternative influence heavily heard on songs like “Another Heart Calls,” and the end result is a fresh album that can only be made by the likes of The All-American Rejects.
The lyrics of this album primarily center on relationships, lead singer Tyson Ritter’s most comfortable topic, but occasionally branches out to other themes on songs like megahit “Gives You Hell.” Ritter’s lyrics are relatable to people no matter the topic, as he speaks basic and obvious topics and lyrics. There isn’t much creativity, but there isn’t much poor written content. There are a few lyrical gems such as “Mona Lisa,” which the band named their “perfect simple song.” The song is simple but effective, the lyrics aren’t extremely deep but they are different while still referring to a basic subject. The lyrics to “Mona Lisa” make a great simple love song as do most of the lyrics on the album.
The range on this album is incredible, there are hard-ish rock songs like “Real World,” simple acoustic love songs like the aforementioned “Mona Lisa,” pop anthems like “Gives You Hell,” and even some 60s-style rock like “Believe.” The All-American Rejects use their musical talent to its full potential by trying out all these genres, never performing anything poorly. However, due to the multiple genres on this album (and really throughout AAR’s discography) there doesn’t seem to be anything that the band has perfected or honed in on as a strong point. Instead of being extremely strong in one subgenre, the band chooses to be simply good at most subgenres of rock. The shining star of this album is when they bring everything together on “Another Heart Calls.” This song combines hard rock elements, soft acoustic elements, pop anthem elements, and retro rock elements all in one. Not only does it combine all these elements to form a genre-merging monster, it does it extremely well. Not a single part of the song is worthless, not a single note could be better, and the imperfect vocals from Tyson and the featured artist The Pierces make the song all the more great. There is something in the emotion and broken sound that the vocals have that elevates everything else in the song, every snare hit, every guitar strum, every violin. It all flows perfectly and smoothly across the short 4-minutes that this track gives.
The production is excellent, too. Eric Valentine produced the record, and he made every single track top-notch. Every instrument is able to be heard and none sound drowned out in the mix. Every transition in a song is done well, even the drum equalization is top-notch, something very very rarely seen in all music. The panning is great on the guitars, bass, violins, synths, organs, and drums. Never does it seem like the sound is too heavy on one side and too weak on the other, never does it sound like there is a muddy track, everything is done at the absolute best quality and best possible production. Once again, standout track “Another Heart Calls” demonstrates this the best along with “Real World.”
When the World Comes Down isn’t an amazing album based on how far and deep the band goes into perfecting their genre, it is an amazing album because it sounds great and diverse. There are no boring tracks (though there are some filler tracks, even they’re listenable) and there isn’t a dictating genre to keep everything in line. The lyrics are okay, nothing poor but nothing great, and the production is incredible.