Writing about bands that you like is never as easy as it seems. How do I begin to describe the journey that I’ve been on when it comes to All Time Low? I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details and just say this: All Time Low were the reason I started listening to alternative music, they were my first ever concert experience, and they’re a comforting constant in my life even when everything else is turbulent.
I had been looking forward to Last Young Renegade for so long that it felt as though June 2nd would never roll around. When my copy arrived in the mail on the day of release, the plastic front cover just broke off entirely. Perhaps I should have taken it as a sign from the universe that this album wouldn’t be everything I wanted. However, when I first sat down to listen to the five songs that hadn’t already been released I was left feeling a little… underwhelmed.
But let’s talk about the title track, ‘The Last Young Renegade’. It’s a strong opening track with prominent guitars starting the track off. The whole song has a nostalgic summer feel about a love lost. The plucky bass that runs throughout the song really helps to hammer in the tug of nostalgia, (‘we said forever/but forever wouldn’t wait for us’). An immediately catchy song with a great narrative, and a song that is meant to be played live. The sound of the guitars almost sounds like something you could have heard on ‘Future Hearts’.
‘Dirty Laundry’ is another great song worth mentioning, and as the first single to be released from the album, it reeled me in right from the first note, despite the criticism that it’s a slow burn of a song. If anything, the slowness and mellowness of the track only helps to utilise the haunting tone the song carries. However, it definitely sounds like more of an opening track than ‘Last Young Renegade’ does, and sets up the theme of the album better. Something worth noting is the lyricism that runs throughout the entirety of the album; it’s incredibly strong and arguably the best that ATL have ever done. Alex’s vocals take the lead here, carrying the song, whilst the instrumentals take a back seat for the most part and don’t kick in properly until the end of the song.
Whereas ‘Dirty Laundry’ is a song decisive in its likeability, ‘Good Times’ takes a little bit longer to make a positive impression. The chorus (‘I never want to leave this sunset town/but one day the time may come’), entices you into singing along right from the very first listen. An easy chorus to learn, and one that gets stuck in your head. The middle of the song treads into definite electronic influence, and that was something that took a little while to get used to, and it feels like either a love or hate type of thing. It’s another infectiously catchy song about leaving things behind in order to move onto something bigger and better, but never forgetting where your roots lie.
‘Nice2KnoU’ is musically, the most different sounding track, with a definite alt-rock influence, and the aggressive, fast paced guitars clash with the lyricism, but in an interesting way. It feels very reminiscent of ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Booze’, with the same message, as it has the same kind of almost ‘screw you’ vibe. A song about not looking back to the past, and doing the most that you can possibly do. A reminder that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith, and not think too deeply about the consequences. ‘Life of the Party’, is one that despite the strong theme of lyricism sounds a little muted. The instruments that are usually such a burning flame for this band sound almost non-existent, apart from in the chorus. In terms of musical composition, it feels a little by the numbers, a little safe in terms of a pop song. I described it to a friend as a song that sounds almost nothing like All Time Low. Despite that, it’s an almost annoyingly catchy song, and one that I have been unable to get out of my head.
From ‘Dark Side of Your Room’ onwards, the positives about this album start to wear a little thin. The last three songs on the album feel a little samey and forgettable. ‘Dark Side of Your Room’, especially is a song that I have very little desire to listen to again, unlike the rest of the album. ‘Nightmares’ on the other hand is thoroughly enjoyable, with a lullaby-like feel to it. Despite the closing part of the album not being as strong as it could have been, this is still an album that is fantastic and incredibly hard to fault, and showcases the maturity of the band.
So, what’s the verdict? All Time Low have released a very mixed bag of an album. The experiment of a new sound is mostly successful, as the first half of the album is nothing short of fantastic, and of course, the band aren’t teenagers anymore so the change in sound is only natural. It’s an album that certainly takes a couple of listens before it grows on you, but not by any means bad. They took the parts that made Future Hearts so likeable and implemented them in a new album, proving their brilliance when it comes to composing songs. An album that can be summarised as ‘bittersweet’, and an album that urges you to go and make memories, the kind of album that makes me want to listen to it at midnight on a summer night with friends, and makes me nostalgic for something I haven’t even experienced.
Written by Asya Kardzhaliyska
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