I think the biggest compliment I could give Movies With Heroes is also the biggest criticism. I'm not talking like a backhanded compliment like "Those pants look better on you than I thought they would." or "This dinner isn't that bad." but more of a it-could-cut-both-ways type of thing like "She looks like Rose McGowen." Here it is.
Movies With Heroes sounds like Thursday.
So, obviously, if you don't like Thursday, you might be disappointed. If you do like Thursday, you might be intrigued. Here's the problem though. They aren't as exciting or as interesting as Thursday so even though you might have been brought in by the comparison you may be ultimately let down. And I look like a dork. Thanks, guys.
I don't think the comparison is without merit though. The lead singer, either Jeff Royer or Keith Wilson or both really, sound like they listened to Thursday's album and sang along in a mirror using a hair brush as a microphone. While I haven't seen the band live, I would be willing to bet that there is more than a little channeling going on the stage. Maybe Thursday as a band collectively shivers when Movies With Heroes takes the stage. I don't know. I'm not familiar with how that voodoo stuff works. Despite all of this, there are glimmers of greatness.
The first track, "Wake Up", is a cry to people (read: teens to twenty somethings) to get active. "Wake up! Wake up! Is this what you want? Sit up! Sit up! No, you're not alone." The tragic flaw of the song lies not with the weird sounding keyboard lick that-for me-pulls the entire song together but in the borderline Christian rock lyrics. I don't really think they are Christian rock lyrics as much as they are a confusing use of pronouns. "They need to hear you." Who's "they"? Who is "you"? In today's religious climate there is at least a 50% chance that one of those people is Jesus-a rather central figure in a rather large religion that has recently come under attack from all sides. (It really is hard to be the underdog with way over half the population being counted as one of you. I feel for you.)
The other track that stands out for me is "Moth and Rust". Here is a song that Movies With Heroes crafted. They don't pound it out. There is no emulation here. I would like to think that this is purely Movies With Heroes. There are glasses or bells being played and then a drum machine comes in and I'm right there. This really is a song that is carried by the vocals. The guitar never gets loud like it does on all the other songs. It just plucks out notes delicately always there but never in the way. It is the vocals that really lift this song up and sustain it. It really is impressive.
The rest of the album is a relatively straight forward rock album. And I don't mean to use the term in a derogatory way. I think Movies With Heroes is on their way to becoming the band imagined in that mirror. Not in an imitation of another band but on that is thought of as a contemporary. I look forward to more releases from this band as this is a necessary but forgettable step.