While it may not be completely true, it seems like almost every big name rock/pop-punk band has taken a pop-oriented approach to their music recently. Unsurprisingly, this trend has been condemned by many. It’s not hard to see why either. Bands like Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy, while never great, always had a bit of soul that seemed to be completely missing in their recent work. That’s not to say every band has failed in the endeavour to create a poppy album. Paramore’s After Laughter does the nu-wave/pop sound beautifully while retaining the essence of what makes Paramore. So where does this leave All Time Low’s new album, Last Young Renegade? The answer is somewhere in the middle.
Let’s be honest here, we saw it coming. All the signs had pointed towards All Time Low taking on a mainly pop oriented sound, as evidenced by the band’s previous album, Future Hearts. The question here is whether or not they’ve done the sound well. Kinda. Gone are the huge choruses and riffs from Don’t Panic and entering in are wintery synths and chopped vocal hooks. The vocals are subdued and dreamy throughout the album instead of loud and in-your-face. The production on Last Young Renegade is cleaner than ever. Does all this make a bad album? Not really.
Everything on the album is surprisingly catchy. You can tell that the band has put in much more effort than other pop/pop-rock albums that have released recently. Alex Gaskarth’s vocals on the album are at their biggest and may be his best effort yet since Don’t Panic. The melodic synths work well in the songs and are a little more layered and complex under the surface. The chilly and moody vibes come across effortlessly throughout each track, which All TIme Low does exceptionally well. Lyrics aren’t the best, but still work well enough even if simple and cheesy. Highlights like “Nightmares”, “Dark Side Of Your Room”, and “Ground Control” showcase some of the best efforts from the band on the album. The third of which features indie pop duo Tegan and Sara, who fit in perfectly on the track, shifting back and forth vocals with Alex Gaskarth. With all that said, All Time Low still have a few upbeat songs on the album to spice up the album a bit. Tracks like “Last Young Renegade” and “Nice2KnoU” are faster than the other tracks with bigger choruses reminiscent of earlier albums.
Last Young Renegade is not for everyone. It tends to happen when changing style or tone. I expect many people to hate this album to death and I don’t blame them. Most of the bite All Time Low had left is gone from the record. All that remains are slow and chill vibes with subdued choruses and instrumentation. However, I feel that All Time Low does it well. This pop/pop-rock sound is something they always had in them. Whether or not they should continue down this avenue is up for debate, but I’ll be enjoying this album for a while.