All Time Low’s definitely a major success in terms of sales, grinding out that Hot Topic and Warped Tour appeal and also, having teenyboppers jumping through hoops at their whim and fancy. The demographic they’re targeting is lapping them up and no matter your taste, that should be respected. Then again, Falling In Reverse has that same effect. Without straying too much off the topic, let me admit I recalibrated my mindset to high school me who was into this brand of soft, cheesy pop-punk to take in this album, and well, Future Hearts lives up to expectations as a record that’s unimaginative and very musically mediocre.
I liked The Ataris, Silverstein, Hawthorne Heights and Yellowcard so it’s not like I’m biased against cookie-cutter pop-punk. Stickup Kid’s a band that fits this genre but with a slightly more aggressive approach, I really took to them. ATL, however, just seems stuck in a monotone sandbox. Tracks like “Satellite” are begging for radio play, a Q&A segment on MTV2 or most likely, a spot on Pixar’s next space-oriented soundtrack. This song’s very bare-boned but catchy, which fits the bill for too many of the tracks they put out. It’s always been a staple of this band to make these simple, minimal tunes that while polished, clean and spiffy, are all made for pop-market junkies out there who save their money for said records and hair gel.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some cute, fun pop-punk jams like “Runaways” and even the inspiration-themed “Kids In The Dark” but these songs, which are more substance than style, come few and far between. In fact, the band’s losing any style they ever really had (which wasn’t much in the first place). Fourteen tracks is way too long for ATL’s brand of music and while you get a few pop anthems, most of the music comes off forced and really lacking effort. I’m not sure what comfort zone the band slipped into but this album doesn’t even feel like they’re trying. Hopeless Records has great bands like Have Mercy, great prospects like Worthwhile and a few old timers in The Used and Taking Back Sunday to shore up the stable but what’s very evident here is that ATL (a band they’ve backed for several years now) are there to pay the bills and not for any musical ingenuity. If you made it through this album, I salute you.