“I woke up on a Tuesday // Felt like a Friday night to me… // Everyday’s a holiday // We stay hot when it’s cold outside, you know // Haven’t left your place in days,” All Time Low sing on “Sleeping In”, a track from their eighth studio album Wake Up, Sunshine. In the spring of 2020, many, many people are no doubt nostalgic for the time mere months ago when staying inside for just days felt extreme. Wake Up, Sunshine is itself something of an exercise in nostalgia going back even before the early part of this year, as suggested by not just the cover (which mocks the audio information which was commonly printed on the front of albums in the early Sixties), but even to a degree the title, which seems more reflective of some of the optimism which pop music trumpeted in older days.
That said, it’s probably a bit ironic (intentionally, we can hope) for the Baltimore pop-punk outfit to open an album called Wake Up, Sunshine with a song called “Some Kind of Disaster.” Still, the track is bright, energetic and an overall a decent starting point. The bouncy, aforementioned “Sleeping In” keeps things awake, while the ambiguously titled “Getaway Green” is another fun and exciting up-tempo ode to escapism. The title track is a tight, solid rocker which introduces a surprising but effective hair metal hook between the chorus and the verse while the overall song presents a positive message consistent with the theme (“Wake up, sunshine // ‘Cause somebody loves you for yourself”).
“Pretty Venom” (good title!) then introduces what’s essentially the middle section of the album (it’s even subtitled “Interlude”), the “sad” part, first with this mid-tempo acoustic number. “Favorite Place”, follows as a collaboration with promising Memphis rockers The Band CAMINO. This track is an uplifting, poignant entry into rock’s “I-Wanna-Come Home” lyrical subgenre (“’Cause I’m not too far //And you’re my favorite place”). A pre-listen peek at the track listing would make it hard not to notice the songs called “January Gloom (Seasons Part 1)” and “Summer Daze (Seasons Part 2).” Though the latter title is a bit of an overused and annoying cliché. By this point, coupled with the album’s cover artwork, it should be obvious that we may be dealing with that anomaly known as a concept album. The good news is both “seasonal” songs are tight and catchy pop.
Wake Up, Sunshine closes with “Basement Noise”, one of those autobiographical songs about an artists’ musical career (“… just stupid boys making basement noise”). A navel-gazer like this tune may seem like a rite-of-passage for a band that’s been around as long as All Time Low has at this point. Unfortunately, this last-minute thematic departure does nothing about the relative sameness in terms of the sound and feel on most of the album. All Time Low’s biggest strength probably lies with lead singer Alex Gaskarth, whose voice is more listenable than most others in the genre, which is particularly fortunate since as a start-to-finish listen, the album tends to become a bit droning by the third act. Still, Wake Up, Sunshine probably won’t have many less discriminating fans of the band or the genre of pop-punk in general.