All Time Low became a band in the year I was born, 2003. They’re actually a month older than I am. Four members came together in the suburbs of Baltimore and built their pop-punk empire through years of guitar-smashing, rockin’ concerts and impressive albums.
I became a fan of the band in the middle of 2015 and quickly became obsessed. The obsession dated back to “The Party Scene” in 2005 with “So Wrong It’s Right,” “Nothing Personal,” “Dirty Work,” “Don’t Panic” and “Future Hearts” quickly following.
“Future Hearts” basically discerned my music tastes for the last five years. It included hits like “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Kids in the Dark” and “Dancing with a Wolf” which showcased each amazing talent from the band. Alexander Gaskarth made new strides in his vocal range, Jack Barakat was able to jam out but also create touching riffs on guitar, Zack Merrick absolutely killed it on bass throughout the album and drummer Rian Dawson elevated the album in a new way that he hadn’t done on the previous ones.
After “Future Hearts,” I was expecting another fantastic album. A couple of months went by, and the band released cryptic clues and excited fans about a new album even more. However, when “Last Young Renegades” released in June 2017, I, along with a lot of the other fans, couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.
It’s not that “Last Young Renegades” was bad, it was that the album wasn’t classic All Time Low. There were good songs, like the title track and “Afterglow,” but the overall vibe was off. It was a darker path that they hadn’t explored much. It felt like they were forced to take a new path that wasn’t comfortable with them.
So, when I heard that their eighth album “Wake Up, Sunshine” was to be released on April 3 I was excited but also nervous. I didn’t let myself get expectations up just in case the album was bad.
I listened to the album straight through the minute it came out, and I couldn’t be more pleased to say that there was no need to fear all along.
“Some Kind of Disaster” was first up on the album, and was also the first song to be released. On Jan. 21, I finally let go of some of my worries as I listened to it for the first time. The song is incredibly upbeat in nature and has an incredible climax right after the slowing down of the bridge. The drums are steady, the bass is subtle, the guitar supports the song and Gaskarth’s vocals kick off the album in an authentic All Time Low style.
Next on the album is “Sleeping In,” an upbeat want-to-dance-around-the-room song. In this song, the bass takes more prominence in the verses while the guitar kicks in during the chorus. The quick tempo also adds to the fun of the song, as well as the lyric “dirty laundry,” an Easter egg for fans of the track “Dirty Laundry” from “Last Young Renegade.” In the last album, it meant secrets that pile too high cause damage, but in this case, it’s accepted as a sign of life and how a healthy relationship can thrive even with it.
“Getaway Green” definitely stands out among the album. The song was previously played in a few concerts and was electric when performed live. Fans like me were desperate to hear the studio version, and it did not disappoint. Barakat starts the song with a strong guitar, and it keeps going throughout the whole song. The best part of the song is definitely the bridge, where Gaskarth’s vocals are brought to the front line while a simple guitar and drums support it. Overall, it’s a great song to shout along to.
Following “Getaway Green” comes another rock song in the softer “Melancholy Kaleidoscope.” It’s still very much a rock song but it has a softer tone as it goes to the chorus and onward. This is definitely a song where Dawson does a great job of drumming throughout. The song also stands out in lyrics with drops of wisdom “can’t be 100 if you’re only giving 95.”
“Trouble Is” starts with a misleading vibe, but eventually builds to an incredible chorus. Gaskarth’s vocals shine in the chorus as he sings the main lines with his own back-up vocals. An incredible bass line also sneaks its way in and out of the spotlight. This song mixes what was good about “Last Young Renegade” and also the parts that were a bit more questionable, but still earns its place on the album.
In the first 12 seconds of the title track, the song was going in a million different directions all at once before it finally settled on a rocking guitar and drums. To me, this song stood out because it was a sign that All Time Low was back. It’s an upbeat song to blare on a car radio throughout a scenic drive while you and your friends shout along. The song stands out on the album for both the stellar fun lyrics and the incredible instruments.
“Monsters” featuring Blackbear is a song that completely took me by surprise. The song dramatically opposes “Wake Up, Sunshine” with its darker tone and lyrics. The genuine surprise lied in was the rap verse in the middle of the song. It was the first All Time Low song that even contained one, but it added on to the song in a brilliant way.
Another dramatic opposition comes in the form of the interlude, “Pretty Venom.” It has a darker tone like “Monsters” but has a softer touch. It brings in a softer quality from both the acoustic and electric guitars that haven’t really been heard since tracks like “A Daydream Away” and “No Idea” from “Dirty Work.” It tells a similar story to “Monsters”, but it contains a much more regretful tone. Once again, different, but still a good song.
The Band Camino is another favorite of mine, and their influence is definitely obvious as they perform “Favorite Place” with All Time Low. A strong drum kicks off the song along with the layered guitars from The Band Camino’s album “Tryhard.” It combines soft rock elements from “Future Hearts” and indie rock elements from “Tryhard” to make a catchy song that has a deeper meaning spread all throughout.
“Safe” isn’t a song that particularly stands out but has a good message especially in this era where things can barely be trusted as the world falls down all around us. It has a tone similar to “Kids in the Dark” from “Future Hearts” in where it’s an anthem about counting on underlying courage and using it to move forward in life.
“January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” starts off with a strong guitar and bass but leads to a softer chorus that builds throughout the song. Overall, not a bad song, but its somewhat sad tone offsets the good parts.
After the previous two tracks, “Clumsy” comes in like a brilliant ray of sunshine. The song immediately hooks the listener in and demands it holds attention throughout the entire thing. Vocals, guitar, bass and drums all have their individual moments in the song but come together in an amazing way. It’s reminiscent of “Break Your Little Heart” from “Nothing Personal” in the lyrics, but instead of being happy about breaking another’s heart, it’s regretful in a way. It definitely ranks high in terms of the entire album and is possibly among the best throughout All Time Low’s long career.
Another top-ranked song on the album is “Glitter and Crimson”. It tells another story of a rocky relationship against the world, but it’s overall sweet and melancholic. In this song, Merrick’s bass finally shines along throughout. Gaskarth also brings out never heard before vocals in the bridge, where it’s very close to pop-punk screaming, but it’s done tastefully and doesn’t take away from the song, but rather adds to it in a meaningful, heartfelt way.
“Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)” was everything that “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” was not. It was upbeat with incredible instruments and a happier vibe that’s very similar to “Getaway Green”. With lyrics like “nothing gold can stay you told me so,” referencing a poem by Robert Frost, it hits close to home and can be relatable for everyone.
The final track on the album, “Basement Noise,” is a soft anthem for long-time fans. It tells the story of the boys playing in the basement for band rehearsals in the early stages, and how no matter the fame they gain, they’re always going to be “stupid boys making basement noise.” With a muted guitar and drums, the lyrics drive the song forward and leave the album on a bittersweet note.
Overall, the album was so much more than expected. There were surprises all throughout, and hints of past albums and memories brought more than a few tears. From Blackbear’s and The Band Camino’s features to impressive vocals and instrumentals and to the hard-hitting lyrics, this album feels like All Time Low is back, and that they are back for good.
Whether someone is a dedicated fan of the band or not, the album is still a great piece of work with many different songs for fans of pop-punk, alternative and rock genres.
Rating: 8 out of 10
author: Morgan Vehige