Tonight Alive
What Are You So Scared Of?


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
February 14th, 2012 | 151 replies | 14,251 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tonight Alive target the world… With a little help from Mark Trombino.

Having released a duo of solid EPs and extensively toured supporting a wide range of international acts, the time was right for promising Sydney quintet Tonight Alive to record their debut full-length release. Considering the dearth of mainstream success amongst local pop-punk acts in Australia, it was no surprise to see ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ released to little fanfare in October 2011. For this reason, it was somewhat predictable that the album would target the overseas market, and a succession of events has already deemed the venture a success. The band signed with California’s Fearless Records in November, toured the U.K with Young Guns in February and have upcoming U.S shows with Go Radio and the Warped Tour. Arguably the largest factor in contributing to all of this however was the teaming with veteran producer Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182), who has added the necessary nous and expertise to the band’s inherent strengths, to allow for an official American release on Valentine’s Day 2012.

Case in point is the ninety second orchestral opener, which effectively builds up a sense of anticipation into the soaring guitar and pounding drums of third single ‘Breaking & Entering’, before the music parts like a theatre show’s curtain for the captivating voice of Jenna McDougall. The main reason for the ever-present Paramore comparisons, the young, affable and seemingly ever-smiling singer is once more the star of the Tonight Alive show, displaying her extensive vocal range while also cleaning up the occasional pitch problems which were previously evident. Backing the blond bombshell is a proficient – if not overly technical or original - foursome of musicians, whose apparent wide range of influences does bring about some much-welcome – if often too subtle – variety to the pop-punk template. There’s a touch of post-hardcore here, some hard-rock there, and everything always remains as accessible as a radio-friendly pop-rock act.

From infectious lead single ‘Starlight’ to EP holdovers ‘To Die For’ and ‘Thank You & Goodnight’, Tonight Alive work best when the tempo is kept brisk. Surely a future single, the easily recitable flow of the latter features a phoned-in verse from Blink 182s Mark Hoppus, a fact which should assist their worldwide prominence. There is, however, one exception to the up-tempo rule: ‘Amelia’, a heart-wrenching tune dedicated to a childhood friend who died in a skiing accident. From the poignant lyrics to the intensifying music, the emotion really shines through here, and it’s a natural balance which the band occasionally struggle to find elsewhere in an attempt to please as many parties as possible. Awkward – if crowd-pleasing – bridges hamper the otherwise solid aggressive tunes ‘Sure As Hell’ and ‘Fake It’, while ‘Safe & Sound’ is a formulaic strings-infused ballad which disappoints. Containing 14 tracks, the album is ultimately overlong, with ‘In The First Place’ especially standing out as filler since it shares a melody with earlier song ‘Listening’.

When one thinks about it, many of the aforementioned flaws are inherent in even an above-average pop-punk outfit, let alone a young band recording their debut LP. Producer Trombino has undoubtedly assisted in smoothing out such deficiencies to result in a release which is eminently enjoyable, catchy and never short on memorable hooks… Even if he often disconcertingly pushes the commercial aspirations of ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ to the fore, for the sake of immediacy. More interesting will be the direction Tonight Alive take in the future. Will they opt for a poppier chart-baiting sound, or simply continue to mature their rockier leanings and steadily branch away from the pop-punk genre? Either course has its own risk vs. reward, but if this scribe was to pontificate, it could be the deceptively well-crafted closing title track (as well as second single ‘Let It Land’) which could be the best indication… Mid-tempo, world-ruling fare which Tonight Alive may just be talented and grounded enough to pull off without selling their souls.

Recommended Tracks: Amelia, Thank You and Goodnight, Starlight & To Die For.



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user ratings (145)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Exhorder (4.5)
A fantastic pop punk album coupling energetic instrumentals with one of the best vocal performances ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For those too lazy to read the review, this gets a U.S release today.

TheSpirit
February 14th 2012



17719 Comments


lead singer is hawt

Digging: Venus Star - Nigredo Expulsion

Nikkolae
February 14th 2012



4836 Comments


nice band, i like All Shapes & Disguises more though, and surprised this just got released in the states,

p.s. nice review davey

Digging: Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

AtavanHalen
February 14th 2012



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

didn't read but the album slays

SCREAMorphine
February 14th 2012



1752 Comments


Saw these guys support The Getaway Plan, they played well.

Great review

Acanthus
February 14th 2012



9537 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool, youtubing now.

Acanthus
February 14th 2012



9537 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Girlfriend hears some Avril in this, it's pretty catchy.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nikkolae, I'd be interested to know which you;d prefer if you took the best 8 songs from this. I really think they got too ambitious including 14 tracks.

DavID, you always agree with everything I say... No need to read my reviews.

I've seen them live twice (they give us Aussies a lot of chances) & they've been pretty good both times. May see them in a festival setting in 2 weeks time too.

Yeah, there's a little bit of Avril, but I think jenna has way more vocal range.

Album art doesn't bother me either way.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wouldn't know what style it is... But it sort of seems mysterious & all.

Evreaia
February 14th 2012



4014 Comments


I love this album.

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

TheSpirit
February 14th 2012



17719 Comments


yeah this is good

Tyrael
February 14th 2012



20823 Comments


why is this not terrible

Acanthus
February 14th 2012



9537 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is pretty fun.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

LOL Thomas. Everything I review isn't automatically terrible, you know?

"fun" = eminently enjoyable, catchy and never short on memorable hooks.

Fugue
February 14th 2012



7352 Comments


So will you be reviewing new fun. as well as Adam?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The full stop/decimal point ruins it for me.

AtavanHalen
February 14th 2012



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album cover sucks so bad

seen this band 10 times

then again i'm not bitchwhipped

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2012



20856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"then again i'm not bitchwhipped"

You wish Jenna would bitchwhip you.


AtavanHalen
February 15th 2012



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

all night long

all

night

long

crandynewman
February 15th 2012



799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the singer sounds like paramour

pretty good



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