Music fanatics will know Justin Courtney Pierre as the former lead of the quirky indie rock band Motion City Soundtrack. They hit the Billboard 200 and were around from 1997-2016. Upon the release of Pierre’s new solo album, In the Drink, fans of his former work may find themselves comparing the debut to Motion City Soundtrack’s sound.

On the plus side, Pierre manages to create a distinct sound on the new album, yet it still will probably give a Motion City Soundtrack fan that warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling. It came out last Friday via Epitaph Records. It only makes sense that it would sound a bit like his previous work since the former guitarist of Motion City, Joshua Cain, hopped on board for this album.

Throughout the album, a listener can hear Pierre’s remarkable lyrical content that he is known for. His words certainly relate to concepts familiar to his past. The first track, “Undone” feels like it blasted off Motion City Soundtrack’s album, Go. Still, it slows things down enough that it does not have the same electronic and synth feel of Motion City Soundtrack.

“Anchor” goes on with those same lyrics that any fan of Pierre’s will enjoy. The background vocals echo that of some of Pierre’s older songs. “I Don’t Know Why She Ran Away” goes on with emotional lyrics that fans of Pierre’s will enjoy. The distortion-like sounds on the strings are pretty great as well – they provide a unique sound.

Sadly, there are downfalls to this record. “Moonbeam” is emotional, yet it is a bit repetitive. ‘Goodnight Hiroyuki” overuses distortion sound effects at points as well. A listener could also argue that the album sounds too much like Motion City Soundtrack. It is really a double-edged sword, but if you are a fan of Pierre’s previous work, this album is for you.

“Ready Player One” is DEFINITELY for any Motion City Soundtrack fan. It is fast paced, emotional, catchy, and it simply has everything going for it. Even if a listener does not know anything about Pierre, this song is a standout. It manages to incorporate in great lyrics while being a bit on the rock-leaning side.

“I’m a Liar” and “Sooner” go on to keep old fans engaged. This middle portion of the record certainly shines through. The bridges are phenomenal, Pierre sounds like he has matured, and these two songs along with “Ready Player One” are just so memorable. They do not overdo it on electronics, and the string work comes across quite nicely.

“Shoulder the Weight” continues with matured themes, with Pierre opening with, “I used to feel things / Then I got older.” A listener might think that this is the song on the album that shows the most progress from Motion City Soundtrack to present. It feels heavier when compared to Pierre’s previous work, and the instrumentals are on the slightly slower side.

The title track, “In the Drink,” like other songs on the album, has a sound that echoes Motion City Soundtrack. Again, unlike Pierre’s previous work, the album departs from constantly incorporating in faster paced elements. It strips back some of the electronic-sounding and upbeat elements that are found on albums like My Dinosaur Life. Still, those sounds are not all gone, so it works!

Overall, In the Drink is a nostalgic type of album. Pierre manages to deliver an almost flawless vocal performance, while still bringing in new and old influences. To put things bluntly: If you are a Motion City Soundtrack fan, you will want to give it a listen. It is beyond nostalgic, and you will most likely enjoy it.

Favorite Tracks: “Ready Player One,” “I’m a Liar,” and “Sooner”

Rating: A-

Freelance Writer and Photographer