When the World Comes Down [12 Track Digital Version]

by: The All-American Rejects

The All-American Rejects first left behind the voice-cracking, charmingly naïve sounds of their debut for 2005's Move Along, a marketable album that paired emo-pop anthems with spit-shine studio polish. Arriving three years later, When the World Comes Down reprises the same formula that made Move Along a success, from the blatantly radio-ready tracks (most of which hover around the 3:30 mark, that magical combination of minutes and seconds that seems to yield the most singles) to the use of auxiliary instruments. Strings, orchestral flourishes, and a female choir all beef up these 13 songs, which (at their root) are straightforward pop tunes about heartbreak, heartache, and other cheerless conditions of the cardiac organ. The extra instruments aren't always needed, but they do add an extra layer to the band's songwriting, which isn't nearly as intricate or impressive as the accompanying arrangements. "Fallin' Apart" experiments with bouncing piano and bowed strings, "The Wind Blows" finds room to house an entire orchestra, and "Another Heart Calls" pairs Tyson Ritter's vocals with the twangy lilt of the Pierces, whose cameo appearance is a bit odd (a folk duo on an emo album?) but still serves as one of the record's truly unique moments. Elsewhere, producer Eric Valentine paints these tunes with unnecessary coats of gloss, as if to pretend that the All-American Rejects' reliance on four-chord progressions is more interesting than anything by their likeminded peers. It isn't -- and that's the Rejects' main obstacle, as they tend to focus on presentation rather than execution. Of course, When the World Comes Down is nothing if not a commercial record, and any lack of distinction won't keep these potential singles from cementing a space on Clear Channel radio. Discerning fans may demand something new from the band's next effort, however, since this is essentially Move Along with a revised track list. [DGC/Interscope issued a 12-track digital edition in 2008.] ~ Andrew Leahey

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