(official album artwork from the Last Young Renegade album)
In my time committed to critiquing music, I have reviewed bands I have had a previous love for, bands I had never heard of and bands that I chose purely for the name or genre alone, but I have thus far neglected to review bands I have had a negative outlook towards before-hand. To this end, I have decided to direct my focus to reviewing a band I have long held a strong dislike for: All Time Low. My initial goals in this respect were fair and professional – to listen to an album impartially, to analyse it for what it is, to understand the appeal and, most importantly, give the band a proper chance. I began to regret this decision from the first ten seconds of the album.
Disclaimer: I’ve never had a positive view on this band, and I sure as Hell don’t now – if you’re a fan of the band then I advise ignoring this slander-fest, this could get messy.
All Time Low are a Pop Punk band who somehow climbed to a level of success not deserved for their level of mediocrity. Forming in 2003, the band almost seemed to form as a means to take advantage of a growing fan base of angst-fuelled teenagers, namely social groups referred to as Emo or Scene Kids – which, as an Emo Class of ’03, I can personally relate to. I can look back now and understand the camp and melodramatic nature of bands such as Simple Plan and Taking Back Sunday, and even appreciate it in certain cases – it was a genre which existed to give social outcasts some measure of comfort, something to relate to and, to a certain extent, offer an identity and place in the world, which I can totally get on board with, to a degree.
Where early bands of this era carried heavy Punk influence, the genre seemed to drift from topics of rebellion and empowerment to personal issues such as getting hurt by girls and general dissatisfaction in life. From the beginning it was clearly a fashion trend and musicians attempting to capitalise on this (such is the nature of music), but it still had a character to it. In time the music seemed to sell out into a more generic, over-produced Soft-Rock kind of style, and with this the movement seemed to lose so much of its momentum and passion. Bands like All Time Low have always flown this flag in my eyes and serve as the true milestone where the movement became truly commercialised. People that read my recent Rancid review will know my opinions on Punk Rock and its history. I think Punk is an amazing thing, but this commercialism and general fashion-oriented attitude is one of the most shameful things the noughties produced. That all being said, this is an album review – so let’s talk about that!
(“unrelated” image of a turd)
It’s garbage! I usually listen to albums through Spotify, so I am subject to many adverts – and my first issue with this album is that I could rarely notice when the first advert for a Pop album played because of the over-produced sound of the album. When you can’t tell when a “Punk-influenced” band ends and an advert for some mainstream Pop artist begins, you know the band have fallen too far from their genre. I remain just as disappointed by the instrumentation behind the songs as everything just sounds like the most generic thing they could have written, and where this isn’t the case it just sounds like they’re plagiarising The 1979’s and Angels and Airwaves (two far better bands).
The best thing about this album is the length – at a mere 36 minutes, it means I suffered it for around nine minutes less than the length of an actual full-length album and, though I complained the opposite with Royal Blood, this is easily my favourite thing about this release. With Royal Blood I wanted an extra two songs or so because it had some character and potential – with Last Young Renegade I just wanted it to be over all the way through. Another positive for me is that the guitar work in the opening track reminded me of Angels and Airwaves, but that just made me want to listen to them instead!
With whiny and juvenile lyrics portraying a pathetic and adolescent take on heartbreak and generally childish issues, I was crying out for this album to grow up – often rising to a state of near-anger. This genre needs a severe kick in the ass and either needs to get back to what made it so unique and inspiring in its early days or expand into something that encourages true worldliness and personal progression. When you compare tracks like Drugs & Candy to songs like St Jimmy by Green Day you can truly see how far the music has fallen and it’s embarrassing for one who once had such esteem for the genre. When you have a band of people around thirty years of age you expect them to break free of this high-school mentality and release something more developed, if anything to try to ease their fans into the reality of the world and into better things. The band needs to mature and expand into something more and it should inspire the same in their fans – instead, this album shows a patronising outlook towards them, implying that they don’t ever need to grow up and their music doesn’t have to either.