Review Summary: I've got no strings, to hold me down, to make me fret, or make me frown. I had strings, but now I'm free, there are no strings on me, hi o.21 of 22 thought this review was well written
The All Time Low tale is not an easy one to tell for any person that was invested in such a promising rise, only to watch it so carelessly discarded for a chance to play degrading mainstream games. It might come as quite a shock to most who only caught wind of this band at their absolute worst but before signing their souls on the dotted line these light-hearted high schoolers had a special “it" factor that just made you root for their success. Encompassing the definitive elements of their Generation X pop-punk idols, they shined beyond what dollar signs could ever hope to muster. All Time Low were humble kids who brought infectious fast paced jams that instantly shifted to accommodate any mood and relate to all walks of life on various levels.
For what they were, prior to the puzzling blunders contained in Nothing Personal
and Dirty Work
, (titles chosen in a forshadowing fashion of grave mistakes), All Time Low offered everything a fan of the genre could ever wish to be put on display. It was harmlessly delivered with charm, earning the band an army of appreciative supporters. It’s no wonder there was such an utter disappointment when the turncoat decision was made to forfeit any shred of integrity over to suits who had complete creative control from that point forward. What followed was a total vomit fest of marketing schemes, aimed to turn All Time Low into the equivalent of Radio Disney pop, accompanied by an eye candy appeal for the mass of ditzy teen girls.
It was even more frustrating that every single member made it painstakingly clear the wool had not been pulled over their eyes, they were in on the joke they had become, and ineffectively flaunting it often. After what seemed like a millennium of over-saturated production, cringe-worthy co-writers, and an abundance of cheese grating pop hits, I’m delighted to announce to some who had lost all faith that the nightmare is over with Don’t Panic’s
arrival. If it’s a testament to the poisonous bite a major label can inject into artists creative veins, look no further than the staggering contrast achieved when a band with actual talent has a respectable indie backing like Hopeless Records, unafraid to let them harness and run free with it.
The long awaited return to form instrumentally powers through at vocal full force, reclaims an aligned grip on the lyrical tracks, and chugs past monumental hook driven scenery. It’s refreshing to witness the confessions of a woken up outfit, dissatisfied with the derailment of their identity, finally finding their destined path. Naturally, there will be naysayer’s who detest the overall focus of the venture due to the impossibility of it being their cup of tea, no matter how it could’ve been brewed. It’s unlikely to garner others who might not believe this is a big enough step in the right direction. If we're basing merits of Don’t Panic
off singles alone, I can see how some may not declare the same enthusiasm gathered from the aforementioned days of yore.
On the other hand, it is within the guest-featured songs I feel the strongest sense of attachment that would disprove those feelings to a solid degree. The entire experience of ‘Backseat Serenade’ reminds me of an upbeat version of ‘Remembering Sunday,’ with the inclusion of soothing female sections, ‘So Long Soldier’ has a distant ring to the heavy chorus in ‘Circles,’ and ‘Outlines’ boasts the dance-laden bounce throughout ‘Poppin’ Champagne.’ I’ll admit the Achilles’ heel of All Time Low has always been sappy lyrical content but that’s been a staple since their formation, one must roll with the punches. The quality, in which they’re expressed, along with the musical companionship, is still infinitely more engaging at the band’s own helm.
The immensely pleasing closer wraps things up nicely in All Time Low’s fifth full-length album that’s sure to divide listeners on all fronts. In the end, there will be those who will undoubtedly never understand the need for this material to exist. By the same token, disenchanted fans may still linger, scoffing at the majorities affirmation that this is a truly a welcomed new chapter. I personally find myself content in being able to attest, with a straight face, at least my nostalgia has been rectified. Even though there is much work that most be done to clean up the mess, it’s nice knowing the members haven’t been fully consumed by fame. It’s a risk that remains to be seen if it’ll pan out but I commend the effort to break away from being just another puppet.