Baltimore natives and pop-punk/emo kings have come a long way since the days of “Dear Maria…” The very same boys who once had little more under their belts than covers of Blink 182 and dreams of performing some day with their heroes (check that off the list) are celebrating their latest studio release, Last Young Renegade.
All Time Low have been promoting their newest album with a special, unique touch of collectible ‘volume’ denim jackets/patches. Their theme has seamlessly transitioned from FUTURE HEARTS to I DON’T BELIEVE IN SAINTS with the simple upside-down turn of their previous logo.
Last Young Renegade marks the band’s seventh studio album (ninth if you count their two earlier EPs) and their first release on their new label, Fueled By Ramen after having been with Hopeless Records for two bounce-back albums after a comically bad experience of going major label far too early. (Who remembers their stint with Interscope/DGC?) All Time Low announced their departure from Hopeless Records with the first taste from Last Young Renegade back when they dropped “Dirty Laundry,” though they leave the Hopeless family on completely different terms than when they left Interscope — happily and with a lot of well wishes. It’s easy to see why “Dirty Laundry” became their front-running single, which served as the perfect blend to connect the new with the old. All Time Low are no strangers to the game. This slower tempo untraditional love ballad has everything you’d expect and love from an All Time Low hit: a strong beginning, an infectious chorus and somewhere just before the song ends, things pick up so lead singer, Alex Gaskarth, can belt the lyrics out in a pseudo-yelling falsetto (jokes aside, we really love this track).
Although, if we could only use a single sentence to describe All Time Low’s latest album, it would be this: All Time Low have grown up… sort of… they seem to be in the Afterglow (see what we did there?). Last Young Renegade is the band’s second go-around with a major label, and dare we say, this time they’ve got things right? The album was produced by a dynamic duo in addition to the band: Nicholas Furlong (who has worked with a number of artists including Blink 182, Steve Aoki, 5 Seconds Of Summer, etc) and Blake Harnage… you remember him, right? Former member of Versaemerge turned producer/singer/songwriting genius. Alongside All Time Low, who have been on the scene for over ten years now, they’ve created something beautiful. The band may have put aside their scene-kid necessities (although guitarist Jack Barakat swapped out his infamous ‘skunk’ hair style from back in the day and has been rocking a red streak for some time now) and embarrassingly bad antics for videos (who remembers their choreographed dance in “Poppin’ Champagne” or Gaskarth’s side-swept bangs and lisp in “Coffee Shop Soundtrack?” Or the ironic, hilarious nature of so many of their videos: “Weightless,” “I Feel Like Dancing,” and even more recently, “Something’s Gotta Give.”) but, All Time Low have been on this path of ‘growing up’ for quite some time now, it just appears that they’ve finally reached wherever they were hoping to get to.
It shows the most in Last Young Renegade where the band has given us four music videos before the album itself has dropped… and in none of them are the guys decked out in silly furry costumes and there are no strippers or pet monkeys. Color us proud. We knew this day would come, although we didn’t know it would come so soon.
True to themselves, Last Young Renegade begins on a hard-hitting, high tempo title track. Although as “Last Young Renegade” builds you up, in the same ways their previous introducing songs have in the past (see: “Kicking & Screaming,” “The Reckless And The Brave,” “Do You Want Me (Dead?)” and even “Weightless”), the songs that follow this opening number are like a smooth ride down a very high rollercoaster.
It isn’t until track number five, “Nice2KnoU” that the record picks up again. We aren’t exactly against this softer, more refined sounding version of All Time Low. After all, 2017 has proved to be the year of change (with the dramatic differences in other artists’ previous work to their newest releases — Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Paramore — are you catching that these artists are also on FBR? Hmm…) and we’re just thankful that All Time Low didn’t attempt to ‘experiment’ with an over-saturated sound filled with computer-driven synth beats. That’s not to say they haven’t flirted with synths paired with piano action (see “Drugs & Candy,” and the Tegan and Sara feature “Ground Control.”) but it doesn’t feel overdone or untrue to the band All Time Low is and always have been. Their embrace of these, in addition to modern R&B vibes (“Life Of The Party” and even “Dirty Laundry”) is what will keep All Time Low relevant in a scene where “pop punk” has become washed out and stagnant due to the millions of soundalikes who just want you to listen to their EP on dirty headphones while you’re begrudgingly waiting in that long line for Warped Tour.
With “Nightmare” comes a vulnerable painted picture of a man as Gaskarth sings about telling himself he wouldn’t be scared and still facing nightmares. The track is a showcase for Gaskarth’s unique vocal range, his ability to go from a grainy/raspy sound to refine, crisp, clean. He has come a long way since The Party Scene and saying we’re proud is a definite understatement.
Even though the album is missing that goofiness that became a staple for All Time Low in the past (and we’re sure, Barakat will still happily accept your sweaty bras on stage), the seriousness of their new sound is a breath of fresh air. Of course, if you were a fan of the loud, in your face chorus and riffs off of the band’s Dirty Work and Don’t Panic, you may find yourself a bit disappointed with All Time Low’s somewhere-in-the-middle transition from the old to the new, pop-driven trend that so many seem to be struggling with to escape. But for fans like myself who are also facing the trials and tribulations of having to grow up, the maturity and honesty in their latest album is something easy to accept as we all seem to be coming to that point of change and the mixed emotions that come hand-in-hand. Trust us — give the album a second chance, let it sit, come back to it. You’ll see that the same four guys are underneath these tracks, which may be the truest to themselves thus far. How can you hate the absolute gem that is the closing track, “Afterglow” which takes on an ‘80s jungle vibes, pairing Gaskarth’s tone with the bright talent of each musician in the band (we see you Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick, don’t think you were forgotten) in a track that you may have expected from the likes of Third Eye Blind meets fun. Trust us. It’s amazing, and if you allow this track to close out the album as intended, you too will be caught up in the Afterglow that All Time Low has created.
Our favorite tracks: Afterglow, Nightmares, Ground Control, Dark Side Of Your Room, Dirty Laundry.
Be sure to check out All Time Low’s official website for information on their album, pick up a copy or peep their tour dates for their US tour happening this year.