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All-American Rejects
When The World Comes Down
DGC/Interscope Records
www.allamericanrejects.com


A line like, "When he's inside you there's no room for me," is unforgivable - even had it been sung by Spinal Tap. But All-American Rejects get grace for this blatant faux-pas because When The World Comes Down is a wall-to-wall fine pop rock CD.

This is not, however, another pop-punk release, which is a style that's getting awfully old these days. Pop-punk asks its practitioners to be tough and tender at the same time. But that's like turning right and left at a stop light. Sooner or later, something's got to give.

AAR vocalist Tyson Ritter has grown into an expressive singer who doesn't need to yelp or growl for our attention. Just listen to the slight Celtic touch a violin gives "Fallen Apart", which allows Ritter the chance to sing sweet. During this curious rock era, when so many emerging rock bands try hard - too hard - for overly deep seriousness, even before they're quite ready for that, All-American Rejects make simplicity sound a tad profound. In "I Wanna" they put it bluntly: "I wanna/I wanna/I wanna touch you/You wanna touch me too." Yet this doesn't come off like a bear trying to get his paws all over some little sweetie. It is, instead, an honest plea for affection.

This new release comes with a bonus disc of demos for four album tracks, including "Mona Lisa" and "Damn Girl". But because producer Eric Valentine didn't overdo it in the studio, these early takes don't sound all that different from their final versions. "Mona Lisa" is acoustic-sweet, both before and after.

Musical trends come and go, and trendy players either mature into adult performers, or they fade away. For instance, Justin Timberlake is now taken seriously as an artist. Whodathunkit? Similarly, with When The World Comes Down, All-American Rejects appear to be on the path to rock artist legitimacy. In other words, they'll probably be around long after the little girls have moved on to the next pierced and tattooed pin-up. And this will hopefully make them an altogether acceptable American band.

-Dan MacIntosh

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