All Time Low are a band who I’ve loved since I was a teenager and I’ve followed their career ever since. Dear Maria, Count Me In and Six Feet Under The Stars both from their album So Wrong, It’s Right in 2007 were big anthems of my late teens and because of that, they will always be a special band to me.
Their new album Future Hearts is the Baltimore pop-punks’ sixth album and follows 2012’s Don’t Panic, which I reviewed back then. Don’t Panic featured the empowering rock monster that was The Reckless and the Brave and the new offering is in a similar vein. A mix of their classic pop-rock style that they’ve always had but with a new electronic dimension that we haven’t seen before.
Something’s Gotta Give was the first single to be released from Future Hearts in January. It has a summer vibe and an explosive chorus with alternative edge. It’s a chilled song with Alex’s melodic vocals set to a swaying rhythm with crashing drums bulking up the back. This is the song that hinted at what was to come but it’s a little misleading to take it as a real taste of what the rest of the record holds. The second single Kids In The Dark was released last month and it shows the new electronic layer. It’s based on a synth background with an alternative rock chorus. It’s a youthful emo song with powerful lyrics that unites against being kept in the dark.
Classic All Time Low is evident on Kicking And Screaming, a high energy pop-punk track with an upbeat melody created by metallic riffs and an angsty hook. It’s there again on Cinderblock Garden with its soaring chorus and tinny guitars. The background chanting “uh-uh-ohs” are another signature pop-punk trope that they haven’t let go of. Don’t You Go is a quirky cheeky track with an American teen movie vibe. It has an offbeat style that makes it stand out on the album.
Future Hearts isn’t without high-profile guest stars. Tidal Waves features Blink’s Mark Hoppus contributing to a soaring ballad with poetic lyrics and beautiful imagery. The deep guitar ripples and kooky electronic tones make it laid-back but the words tell a dark story about being lied about and let down. Bail Me Out introduces Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden. This retro pop-rock song has a catchy chorus and a quirky summer rhythm. It’s upbeat and cheerful with an acoustic foundation.
Two songs that are very different from classic All Time Low are Runaways and Missing You, particularly the latter. Both songs begin with pretty chimes and have a whimsical atmosphere. Runaways is about escaping pain and heartbreak and is something that a lot of listeners will relate to. A chorus that encourages us to ignore our tormentors pushes through strong drums and tinkling guitars. Missing You has a slight country slant to it and is undeniably American. Climbing harmonies on the chorus contrast the soft melody and sit next to the folksy vibe. Another song of note is Dancing With A Wolf. The beginning has an old movie feel with strong dark drums and riffs. It’s fast-paced with a prowling rhythm and an ominous atmosphere. Dark and mysterious, it’s a loud live track that really sticks in your mind.
Ending on Old Scars/Future Hearts, the album ends on a song that incorporates everything on the album -electronic spurts, growling riffs and angsty lyrics. It’s not the strongest song on the album, which is why I’m not sure it was the best to end on. However, it has got some high energy moments and a tension between the verses and chorus. It’s a crowd-pleaser which makes it a great live track and the line “We got scars on our future hearts but we never looked back” is a mantra that we can all take away from the record.
Future Hearts is a mixed album. I prefer All Time Low’s earlier work but I’m not sure if that’s because of the nostalgia attached to it or whether they’re actually better at the pure angsty emo/pop-punk. There are some great lyrics on this album but I don’t know whether the synths suit their style. However, there are still enough of the tinny guitars and cheeky energetic pop-punk to make it an enjoyable album.