After much anticipation, celebrated New York-based band The Movielife have released “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel,” the first single off Cities In Search Of A Heart. This album—their first offering since 2003’s seminal Forty Hour Train Back To Penn—marks The Movielife’s triumphant return to form and is set to be released on Friday, September 22 by Rise Records.
“It’s really about how we’re living in strange days,” frontman Vinnie Caruana says of the song. “Compassion, mercy, and righteousness are desperately needed in order to wash away the darkness that’s tearing us apart. Mercy done lost her mind and is driving us straight into the sun. All we can do is hold on tight and fight for love and the human spirit.”
Don’t call Cities In Search Of A Heart a comeback album because reunions rarely sound as inspired as this. This is a record that shows how much the group’s songwriters—vocalist Caruana and guitarist Brandon Reilly—have grown since 2003’s Forty Hour Train Back To Penn, and it offers up their most inspired and energized songwriting to date. Whether you’ve loved The Movielife since they were a scrappy Long Island hardcore band in the early 2000s or you’re a recent initiate, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the kinetic energy and lyrical honesty that permeates every note of Cities In Search Of A Heart.
The story of this record officially began two years ago when, after spending a decade on their own projects—Caruana’s I Am The Avalanche and Reilly’s Nightmare Of You—the duo started playing shows together as The Movielife again. “The two of us became close friends again and we both felt like we had learned so much about songwriting since the early 2000s that we should do another record together,” Caruana recalls, speaking from his home in Brooklyn. “We had a great reaction to our reunion shows in 2014 but felt that instead of keeping it on a purely nostalgic level we wanted to write a record together that people could get into today.” Not wanting to taint the band’s legacy or recycle the past, the duo were faced with the monumental task of figuring out exactly who The Movielife are now, which was no easy task.
Caruana and Reilly initially struggled with writing the record until last year when they had the realization that they simply needed to make a new album that captured the punk spark that had been so prevalent in all of their previous releases. “I knew the tempos had to be up and we had to be energetic because that’s what our shows are like and that element is so important to who we are as a band,” Caruana explains. “I have to admit that the task of making this record seemed slightly impossible in the beginning but I’m so happy that we pushed ourselves so hard because we ended up making a Movielife record that we’re freaking out about and can’t wait to share with the world,” he adds.
Caruana has good reason to be excited. From the driving, melodic rocker “Mercy Is Asleep At The Wheel” to the fuzzed-out pop perfection of “Laugh Ourselves To Death” and the orchestrally-tinged acoustic ballad “Pour Two Glasses,” the album shows that The Movielife have crafted a collection of songs that’s as captivating as it is catchy. Lyrically, the album sees Caruana once again writing from the heart, about where he is in his life today and about the current state of the world. “The dichotomy of The Movielife has always been upbeat music combined with sometimes unsettling lyrics and on this record that dark cloud is being addressed throughout the record in different ways,” Caruana says of the album. While lines like “We’re all gonna die, exploding in a ball of fire” from “Laugh Ourselves To Death” may sound nihilistic, it’s more of a reaction to the uncertainty that plagues the world today as interpreted through the band’s unique approach to songwriting. On the flip side, Cities In Search Of A Heart features some of the band’s most hopeful songs to date, keeping the album’s overall sound feel far more inspiring than defeatist.
But ultimately Cities In Search Of A Heart is meant to be listened to, not analyzed, so turn it up because rebirths usually aren’t this catchy. “Calling on the hearts, wear it on the sleeve for all to see,” Caruana sings during the album’s infectious closer “Hearts” and with these words it’s clear that he’s singing as much for himself as he is for the band’s listeners who may not have found their own voices quite yet. This album speaks to those very simple yet relatable attributes of what it means to be human during an unprecedented time in human history, so take it all in and hold on tight.
The Movielife will be on tour supporting Cities In Search Of A Heart during 2017 and well through 2018. Dates and details on all upcoming performances to be announced soon.