This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
Now that emo has truly and irrevocably gone mainstream, fans have two choices: 1) Whine about it online and dismiss all major-label releases as hypocritical sellouts like punker-than-thou elitists; or 2) Accept it, move on, and judge the albums on their own merits.
If you prefer 1), avoid this debut album from The All-American Rejects. If, however, you endorse 2), you could do worse than these Oklahoma youngsters. On the one hand they’re accessible, with the big hooks, bittersweet melodies, catchy choruses and plaintive vocals of a poppier Dashboard Confessional, Get Up Kids or Jimmy Eat World. On the other, they’re slightly innovative, incorporating squishy synth effects and squirrelly beatboxes into their sound to separate them from the backpack pack. Sure, they aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here — but they aren’t the rejects they paint themselves as.