Review Summary: A more mainstream approach that hinders more than it helps
Ahhh Nothing Personal, the album that garnered many new fans for the band, but at the same time turned away many of the older fans. The reason is simple, All Time Low are a pop-punk band who don't really enjoy being pop punk. Later releases have shown that the band has a love for a more tween orientated powerpop sound.
This album bridged the gap between their old pop-punk sound and their new, more commercialized sound. It holds some downright terrible songs such as 'Too Much', which has been used as a blatant attempt to attract more Pop/R'n'B fans and 'Hello, Brooklyn' to hook fans of electro-pop. Because these songs focus more on pandering to their selective genres than good songwriting, they end up being the worst songs on the album.
'Too Much' lives up to its name as it just feels like too much of song. It feels incredibly long due to it's slow, monotonous beat and a complete lack of effort in the lyrics department. However, in reality it only clocks in at 4:16.
Hello, Brooklyn shares many of the same faults that 'Too Much' does, by sounding overly-polished and lyrically contrived. But as an added bonus, we get Alex rhyming any and all major cities that pop into his head.
Auto-tune rears its ugly head throughout the album and becomes a big problem, considering Gaskarth can actually sing, the auto-tune and vocal effects are unnecessary and even damaging to some of the songs. An example would be the song "Lost In Stereo" while being a solid song, the over-layering and lyrical repetition drags the song down from something that could have been much, much better. The same can be found on the song 'Walls', which begins with an awkward sounding beat, but slowly evolves into something of a We The Kings rip-off (Think 'Skyway Avenue')
Even with these faults however, the album has some thoroughly enjoyable moments. 'Weightless', the album's lead single, shows off Gaskarth's talent at writing hooks as teenagers everywhere are singing at the top of their lungs 'Maybe it's not my weekend, but it's gonna be my year'.
The next five songs on the album are surprisingly consistent, even if they don't quite live up to the standards set by the opening track. You can find clever word play on the song 'Stella' which uses the word 'Stella' to describe a girl and a branded alcoholic beverage of the same name. There's also the power ballad-esque 'Sick Little Games' which manages to refrain from sounding cheesy, like its classic 80's counterparts. And finally you have the two anthemic sing-alongs 'Damned If I Do Ya' and 'Break Your Little Heart' which will be stuck in your head for days.
After the next, extremely poor three songs, the album picks itself back up again with some of the strongest songs on the album. 'Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal' and 'A Party Song ' are reminiscent of their past album as they are brought back to something closer to their older sound, with a less mechanical production and more heart and energy, making these songs a fun listen.
Finally, you have the albums closer 'Therapy', which shows of Gaskarth incredible vocals and talented lyric writing about a more personal topic (contrary to the album title) that is targeted towards a more niche audience of troubled children forced to go to therapy against their will. This was a brave move on an album that was meant to target a wider audience.
"Therapy is every kids nightmare. When everyone is telling you you need help and all you really want is a hug. - Alex Gaskarth"