It’s official! The pop-punk band All Time Low has returned from its all-time low – the deep, dark depths of ear-candy pop. With its last album, “Dirty Work,” the quartet replaced its characteristic melodious lyrics and instrumentation with synthesizers and throwaway verses, disappointing loyal fans. However, the band’s newest album, “Don’t Panic,” is a step back in the right direction. By returning to sophisticated diction, heavier guitar riffs and pure emotion, ATL once again is bound to delight dedicated listeners.
One of my favorite parts of this album is the sophisticated lyrics, something greatly lacking in “Dirty Work.” The “hustling,” “crunking” and Ke$ha references in “Dirty Work” just didn’t cut it for me.
“It [‘Dirty Work’] was too much about partying and not enough about things of substance,” agrees Williamsville North student Cassidy McGee.
By contrast, “Don’t Panic” incorporates ATL’s distinctive lyrics – ones full of teenage angst. Since most of ATL’s fan base are teen girls, it only makes sense to write lyrics about crumbling relationships, the end of adolescence and individuality. For example, one new track, “Somewhere in Neverland,” perfectly describes the desire to stay young while growing up.
In addition to better lyrics, “Don’t Panic” brings back the “old” ATL sound: moderately heavy guitar chords and high-pitched emotional vocals. While “Dirty Work” attracted pop fans like moths to a flame, “Don’t Panic” is sure to appeal to alternative and post-punk fans alike. The group’s switch from Interscope Records to Hopeless Records is partially to thank for the switch from the commercialized sound of synthesizers and lackluster guitar riffs to the heavier, Simple Plan-esque tones. “So Long and Thanks for the Booze,” a song completely unrelated to teenage drinking, is a prime example of the intense guitar and drum blend.
Although ATL has recovered after flat-lining on bubble gum pop, the group is still a little shaky. For one, “Backseat Serenade,” the album’s cliché summer song, falls flat. The lyrics are nothing special, which doesn’t mix well with the gunning guitar beat. Lyrically, numerous clichés creep into otherwise perfectly worded songs like “The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver,” which could do without “crocodile tears” and “snakes in my daffodils.” Despite these shortcomings, All Time Low has shown that its lapse of judgment in creating “Dirty Work” has since passed.
As Williamsville North junior Alexa Gardner put it, “The underdogs are back!”
Cari Hurley is a junior at Williamsville North High School.