Review Summary: Arguably the best way the band could return to form after the mess that was Dirty Work, this will please old fans of All Time Low whilst also the same time possibly attracting a new wave of fans, definitely an album that needs to be heard.
After the disappointment of All Time Low's major label debut Dirty Work in which producers and label executives had far to much influence on their work they needed to create an album that would pull them back from the brink and regain them the credibility they had lost and guess what, they did. Don't Panic was recorded when All Time Low wasn't signed to any label, funded by themselves and recorded with Alex Gaskarth acting as executive producer allowed All Time Low return to their old pop-punk sound whilst a few guest writers and featured artists have allowed Gaskarths writing abilities to shine and develop as well as help the quartet to produce some songs that are worthy to live up to the All Time Low name they had established with their Put Up Or Shut Up EP, So Wrong It's Right and Nothing Personal albums which displayed them at their strongest.
Opening track the Reckless And The Brave is obviously a track written by Alex about the bands time spent on major label Interscope as can be heard in the lyric "Looking back at a life on the other side, I realize that I didn't fit in, didn't hate it but I didn't quite relate it to my precious little world" The song is a refreshing way to open the album, Gaskarth sounds his best here, the synths play in with the guitar and drum work very well and displays the bands talent to create uplifting and fun sounding songs based on dire or negative situations and how much the band has matured in their years of writing music. Backseat Serenade follows on a similar note, with plenty of strong synth and guitar work as well as some strong vocals and a bouncy feel to the song though it is on about a whirlwind romance that obviously didn't work out, its a great piece of modern pop-punk that fits in with the best songs the band have written and will be a favorite of both fans of the band and people who have never heard of them before. If These Sheets Were The States and Somewhere In Neverland both follow with similar lyrical themes though this time about the Gaskarth current relationship with his girlfriend and how often touring separates them and his desire to be with her even though he can't be and is encapsulated in the lyric "If these sheets were the states then you were miles away, I'd fold them end over end to bring you closer to me" though is a sickly sweet lyric will be one that people will easily connect themselves too. Somewhere In Neverland is one of the strongest songs on the album is a fantastic pop-punk song, the drums are strong and fast paced as is the guitar work and is very catchy and infectious and one easily to fall in love with and for the young adult market for which their music is mainly aimed for, the lyrical content of growing up and becoming an adult will be one easily to empathize with.
The middle of the album shows no signs of slowing down as the most fast paced and shortest song on the album So Long Soldier details the life of Alex Gaskarth from being born outside of London and moving to the States to his bands first practice and becoming a fully fledged band is endearing and the most punk like and heaviest song on the album and Anthony Raneri's backing vocals add strength to the songs harmonies. The Irony Of Choking On A Life Saver is slightly slower in pace but still not slow by All Time Low standards and is a song about betrayal, this can be seen to be the more ambiguous of songs on Don't Panic as it could be about a friendship betrayal, betrayal by Interscope or a betrayal in a relationship. The lyric "You are the snake hiding in my daffodils... but you're always out to get" allows the listener to interpret the song the way they wish to and place their emotions and thoughts into the songs lyrics and shows how Gaskarth has developed and strengthened his song writing over the years. To Live And Let Go begins with a dream like riff before crunching down into a far heavier riff and details personal emotion and confliction about being trusted to forget about a situation and once again maybe about Interscope as its put "When the last of my cities have burned, whats left is nothing, why did I waste it on you, I shouldn't be trusted to live and let go" the album is obviously shaped by their time spent with Interscope and their subsequent decision to leave the label. Outlines maybe the strongest track on the album as it was co-written by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy and features Jason Vena on vocals during the chorus, this is definitely a fun track that talks about their hometown of both Baltimore and their old label Hopeless records, being "new kids on an old block" this song shows the best of both Stump's and Gaskarths writing abilities.
Thanks To You is probably one of the weaker tracks on the album because it is slightly repetitive in terms of lyrics and style but it is still a decent track to include on the album but doesn't show the band at their best, but compared to some of the songs on Dirty Work, still streaks ahead of what they did on that album. My personal favorite track and lead single For Baltimore is a sweet little track that talks about high school love and has some of the best vocal work on the album, with strength and depth to the vocal range of Gaskarth as well as the band playing their parts well, the bass can be heard and contributes to the song well, the drums don't drown out the guitars and the riff is catchy and drives the song forward at a break neck pace. Paint You Wings follows in a similar vain and is another fantastic pop-punk song and never outstays its welcome despite being one of the longer tracks on the album bearing in mind that no song on the album reaches the 4 minute mark though some close. This leaves us with closing track So Long And Thanks For The Booze which is a sort of fitting song to end the album with as it contains lyrics of the band starting afresh again and is definitely aimed at Interscope this time, it leaves the listener on a cliff hanger as the band are back to their old selves, where will they go next? Its a smart choice to close the album with and after Dirty Work, gives the listener reassurance that All Time Low are back to their old selves and will be the pioneers and faces of modern pop-punk once again.