All Time Low have been writing upbeat, catchy pop punk songs since their teens. Fourteen years on, they are trying to change things up a little on their latest album Last Young Renegade, but end up sounding as if they haven’t really moved on.
Overall, the tracks generally feel formulaic and dated with their instrumentation, structure and tempo. From the opening title-track to Good Times, there are cleanly picked guitars in every verse, before huge layers of harmonies and crashing cymbals on each chorus. The individual parts aren’t necessarily bad, but with such a clean production, it almost doesn’t sound real, with the band clearly trying to fill the void left by One Direction’s hiatus last year.
The second half of the album has more of a midnight chill vibe, and the picked guitars have been replaced by hazy synth sounds. Again, the individual parts aren’t bad – there’s a particularly moody lo-fi line in Life of The Party which is great, but songs like Afterglow, Ground Control and Dark Side Of Your Room sound like every other song in the charts. Nice2KnoU is the only upbeat pop punk tune, which may even make 5 Seconds Of Summer flinch.
Despite all this, it’s the lyrics that really drag this album down. Alex Gaskarth is still harping on about brief and empty relationships as if he is still living the life of a teenager. The most nonsensical and jarring line is “Dirty laundry looks good on you” which repeats constantly throughout Dirty Laundry, while the line “Feels like an echo” in Dark Side Of Your Room seems to capture the entire record.
For those who like safe, middle-of-the-road pop songs, All Time Low have delivered. But if you like something with a little more edge or depth, this won’t be for you. It would be more fitting if the album was called Ever-Lasting Young Renegade.