A lot has changed since 2016. The world is a different place and Michigan-based band Mover Shaker is a different band. They’ve since toured the United States, been stuck on the side of a mountain, and left the progressive rock displayed on their first album behind to release their sophomore album. “Another Truck Stop,” which was released Nov. 21, never truly lands on a single genre, but rather traverses through time and sound to bring together the current sound of the band.
The 10-song album is a rollercoaster: switching between ballads and rock anthems, shredding instrumentals and emphasized vocals and lead vocalists Jack Parsons and Gabriel Miller. No matter who’s taking the lead, it’s clear this album was inspired from several different eras of music ranging from the ‘70s to now, including hardcore, disco and rock. Some songs even combine elements of these eras while others are wholly dedicated to certain genres: “Put Me To Sleep” and “Vilify” represent the heaviest ‘80s influence on the album while “The Children Want Their Nicotine” is a hardcore track through-and-through.
The album opens with “Latchkey,” starting with an explosion of instrumentals that mellow out just in time for Parsons to start singing. The chaos returns toward the end of the track with drummer Colin Shea providing animalistic drumming that transitions the song to its outro. Chaotic instrumentals appear several times throughout the album, with one of the most notable instances being at the end of “Service Provider” — where the song devolves into a distorted, nightmarish version of the verse.
The sonic mayhem heard on several of the tracks is fitting for certain themes of the album, which center around struggles with mental health and relationships, often focusing on the anxiety of communication breakdown in a relationship. On “Service Provider,” Miller sings, “I imagine the worst when we don’t talk while you drive” and later expands on the uncertainty with “Can’t tell if you’re just tired or if you’re mad at me.” The line “Love cuts like diamond dust” repeats in the choruses to capture the pain brought by a tumultuous relationship.
The album’s first track, “Midwest Amnesiac Blues,” carries the album’s theme of mental health in the most forward way. It details the side effects of medications with Parsons belting “Sleeping in for the 30th day” and “Nothing makes me happy / Yeah well nothing makes me sad” to encapsulate the struggles of mental health that continue during treatment.
Instrumentally, “Midwest Amnesiac Blues” starts with what’s seemingly an acoustic rendition of the song before blowing up into the rock and roll masterpiece it is. Explosive drum fills back up soaring guitar riffs, ultimately leveling out so Parsons’ vocals can take the wheel. Colin Shea’s drums come back with a vengeance, backing the chorus with bursts of fills as Parsons screams through the rest of the track.
One of the most beautiful pieces on the album, “Vilify” slows down the pace of the tracks to allow Miller the spotlight yet again. The instrumentals on this track are mesmerizing, with the reverb-heavy guitar tone and bass slides giving the song a spacious feel, reminiscent of a Pink Floyd track.
The production quality of this album is magnificent, but that’s no surprise knowing that recording engineer Ryan Ellery — who also produced Mom Jeans’ and Just Friends’ most recent records — was at the helm. Ellery has made a name for themselves working on highly regarded albums in emo and adjacent genres, including “Best Buds” and “Nothing But Love.” It is no surprise that this streak of studio magic continues with “Another Truck Stop.”
“Put Me To Sleep” is the group’s tribute to disco, a stark contrast from the previous track —”The Children Want Their Nicotine” — which could be defined as hardcore. Bassist Ryan Shea’s grooves inspire the listener to dance along to Miller’s synth and vocal work on the track that would be a hit in clubs across America in the 80s.
The album closes off with the title-track, “Another Truck Stop,” a melancholic anthem for anyone who has ever been on tour. The song runs just over a minute but the layered vocals, folk instrument backing and nostalgic feel of the song leaves the listener wishing it went on for longer. Despite this, it’s the perfect, succinct cap to this album. The track details the hardships of playing shows when Parsons sings “play a gig, don’t get paid” but reminds listeners that the real payoff when touring was the friends made along the way.
“Another Truck Stop” is now available on all streaming services.