Time is the essence of life, and with time comes changes and phases. With time we grow, develop and mature as beings; some things we have come to love and admire fall by the wayside and we discover new entities to fill the voids. This is what a lot of All Time Low fans have witnessed – a band that that has grown over time into the monstrous band they are today. After two albums and a classic EP, the band decided to take a different route with their last album, Nothing Personal, which was frowned upon by the overwhelming majority for its glossed over pop sound. Now, it’s no secret that the guys have been aiming for a wider audience after taking the scene by storm. Nothing Personal was the first step in that direction but failed to reach the ultimate goal. Two years later and the band’s back to try again with Dirty Work.
On Dirty Work, the boys lost the gloss and tongue in cheek lyrics and took their new sound to a whole new level. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some shortcomings, but the development on their sound is blatantly apparent. Dirty Work starts with “Do You Want Me (Dead?),” one of the stand out tracks on the album. Combining the best elements of Nothing Personal and So Wrong It’s Right, it creates a fire-starter of another kind. Next is the controversial track “I Feel Like Dancin’.” Written with legendary alt-rocker Rivers Cuomo, the song has no real redeeming qualities other than that it’s a fun song, which is what All Time Low have been about for quite some time now. Everyone is up in arms over its joking nature, but when Weezer did the same thing on their second to last album, Raditude, people were fine with pulling the “substance-less and fun” card.
All Time Low have become everyone’s new favorite band to hate and have become the new “guilty pleasure” of the scene.
The next 5 songs finds the band hitting a hot streak with radio ready pop ear candy. “Forget About It” contains one of the catchiest choruses on the whole record, but is slightly brought down by Alex Gaskarth’s banter in the middle of the song. The band’s finest work in some time surfaces in “Guts,” which has a Third Eye Blind-esque riff, guest vocals from Maja Ivarsson of The Sounds and Gaskarth’s best lyrics since So Wrong, It’s Right. This shows the potential that the band has to excel in the radio world and still maintain their true colors that everyone has revered over the years. Staying on pace, “Time-Bomb” follows in the same vein but channels a Jimmy Eat World vibe, showing that the band took some chances with Dirty Work to expand their arsenal of sounds for better and worse. “Just The Way I’m Not” sounds as if it was pulled from Def Leppard’s greatest hits, and couldn’t be any sweeter. Kids across the world will be shouting the chorus at the top of their lungs at every show and in their shower. The tempo picks up with “Under A Paper Moon” and quickly drops off with “Return The Favor,” which is where the band took some more drastic chances by adding piano and strings – not easy to swallow at first. It comes across as a hybrid of All Time Low and Panic! At The Disco, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in. “No Idea” and “A Daydream Away” seem to get lost in the mix, not packing a whole lot of punch and lacking in catchy hooks and choruses.
That band’s time with Third Eye Blind shows up in “That Girl,” with Gaskarth’s vocal delivery matching up to Stephan Jenkins signature style and cooking up angsty love lyrics but making them taste oh so good. The last track is a treat for the naysayers who have been writing the band off since the last album. “Heroes” is a trip back to the So Wrong, It’s Right days, with chugging pop punk chords, Rian Dawson’s signature drum beats, and Gaskarth leading the over-the-top chorus. It ends Dirty Work on a high note and makes you want to jump back and start it over.
Regardless of what you have to say about the band, they have made it apparent this was the direction they were heading towards for some time. Whether you like it or not is up to you; ultimately, it’s a catchy pop rock record, nothing more, nothing less. All Time Low have become everyone’s new favorite band to hate and have become the new “guilty pleasure” of the scene. Haters gon’ hate, but at the end of the day, All Time Low made the catchiest record possible and have their fingers crossed for airplay in the upcoming months. For those who accept it, Dirty Work will be a staple in their summer playlist. As for everyone else, they’ll bump it in their rooms when no one is around like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. And who can blame them?
author: Keagan Ilvonen