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ALBUM REVIEW: All Time Low, Don’t Panic

TITLE: Don’t Panic
BAND: All Time Low
LABEL: Hopeless Records
RELEASED: October 9th 2012

We’ve only waited a year for the new All Time Low album but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been highly anticipated. After the release of the lead single The Reckless and the Brave in May, excitement about the album began to generate and although it is largely what we’ve already heard from the band,  there’s no denying that it’s still great music.

For me, the Baltimore foursome are the definition of modern-day, American pop-punk. Don’t Panic is packed full of classic pop-punk hits, as well as some more alternative tracks and some pop, leaving no stone unturned. Despite having that tinny quality, which is present in the work of a lot of teeny-bop bands, they’re still making tracks that their fans will love forever. Although I like to think of myself as having a more sophisticated musical taste than the average sixteen year old, All Time Low are still a band that I listen to regularly.

Of course, the majority of the album is fun-loving pop-punk with little bits of angst and heartbreak thrown in. The metallic guitars are prominent on Backseat Serenade, which has a very catchy hook and thundering drums. It’s perfect American teen comedy music, as is So Long Soldier, which bears a strong resemblance to fellow pop-punks New Found Glory. Thanks To You is another classic All Time Low song and with Paint Your Wings following, it seems that the band are never too far away from their roots.

Two tracks with very clear themes and ideas are If These Sheets Were States and Somewhere In Neverland. The former is an interesting analogy of the distance one feels in a failing relationship and the latter is about the agonies of growing up. If These Sheets Were States is a slower track with singing guitars in the instrumental and a slightly more alternative sound than we’re used to from them. Somewhere In Neverland is the story of trying to make young love survive the trials and tribulations of  growing up with references to what else but Peter Pan. It’s no different from other All Time Low songs but it’s a universal theme set to a catchy melody.

The middle of the album is comprised of three much poppier tracks, The Irony Of Choking On A Lifesaver, To Live and Let Go and Outlines. All three have pop backing and melodies with the vocals verging on boyband. The Irony Of Choking On A Lifesaver has punky guitars and a lot of attitude, To Live And Let Go has a great moshpit vibe and Outlines has a robotic intro and vocals, which aren’t as strong as on other tracks. In fact, these tracks have a hipster sound to them and it’s almost like the band are fitting in with what’s cool, when they really shouldn’t. Sure, they should branch out a bit but that doesn’t mean they should try to conform to what the charts want.

New single From Baltimore employs a slower acoustic intro before launching into their tinny riffs and fierce drums. With a cheerful vocal, which wouldn’t be out of place in the finale of a High School Musical film, it’s a song that could really be any American pop-punk group like a lot of the tracks on the album and distinctiveness is definitely something that the band lack.

Closing on So Long And Thanks For All The Booze, which mixes both the light of pop and the dark of metal, the band have rounded the album off well. It would be a great show closer too, not simply due to the ready-made goodbye title. It reminds us that All Time Low are a feel-good band who produce upbeat, happy songs but they probably should think about moving into something a little different. No doubt they’re still the great pop-punks they’ve always been but it would be cool to see them maybe cut down on the cheese and step up the rock. It would definitely give them some distinction and help them stand out in an oversaturated market.

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