Review Summary: The boys from Baltimore are well and truly back in the game.
It’s pretty much widely accepted among reviewers and fans alike that All Time Low’s 2011 release Dirty Work is, shall we say, not their best work. So, as a long time fan, I was more than a little worried that their latest album would follow in Dirty Work’s average-at-best footsteps. It was that fear of disappointment that made me hold out on listening to Don’t Panic for so long. But, I have to say, when I finally gave it a listen I was pleasantly surprised.
Album opener 'The Reckless and the Brave' is nothing that hasn’t already done before countless times. But, to me that doesn’t really matter. It’s a fun, punchy track that’s pretty much guaranteed to get crowds of any size pumped up, screaming along to the lyrics.
Lyrically, the album does seem a little ‘cheesy teenage love story’. While love is obviously a pretty common topic among the pop-rock genre, the love songs on Don’t Panic just don’t quite live up to older songs like 'Remembering Sunday' for me. Lines like “Wendy run away with me, I know I sound crazy” from the Peter Pan themed 'Somewhere in Neverland', and “You’re salty like a summer day” from 'Backseat Serenade' are just a little juvenile. But, for a band that largely caters to a legion of adoring teenage fans, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.
One track that particularly stands out for me is 'Outlines', featuring Jason Vena of Acceptance. It has the same anthemic feel as 'The Reckless and the Brave', but with just a little more originality. But, that perhaps could be put down to the fact it’s co-written by Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, rather than Gaskarth himself.
As a whole, the album just feels so much more well put together than Dirty Work. The return to their old label Hopeless seems to have been a great move, and has given the band the freedom to get back to their old sound. While the album is nothing groundbreaking, it’s well rounded and fun to listen to. It may even be just enough for us all to pretend the blip that is Dirty Work never happened.