Review Summary: The “other side” wasn’t pretty
It appears that Jenna McDougall and the other lot that make up Tonight Alive are the newest to pull the next “Coldplay” (Other acceptable phrases include Maroon 5, Panic! at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy) and have abandoned their roots to jump on the ever growing bandwagon that is “career ending sell out pop”. Fortunately for Tonight Alive however, is that unlike their fellow ex-rock contemporaries, they sound like a full band that's present for Limitless
. There’s none of the nonsense of downgrading members to touring musicians (Panic! At the Disco), using your band’s name as a brand for a half-baked solo album (Maroon 5), or “realizing” a sound that could have been produced by any studio session ghost producer (A Head Full of Dreams). You still have the sense that this is indeed Tonight Alive well... alive and well for the production of this album.
Lead single Human Interaction
gave a glimmer of hope that Tonight Alive was going to slay it with Limitless
a few months back. Even with it’s insanely safe output, you could still feel Taahi moving the space-aesthetic synths along seamlessly with the lick of a guitar and you could definitely hear Best still kicking it in the percussion department despite restraint. Even better was Jenna herself packing a wallop with her soaring strain through the chorus. Unfortunately, however, Human Interaction is the lone track to suggest that Limitless
was the next chapter for Tonight Alive after they came through “the other side” back in 2013. Beyond that, everything else has been so incredibly streamlined and restrained that Limitless
is ironically "Limited" in the creative department. Sadly irony doesn’t have the benefit of hilarity that could give them some credibility here. All that’s left is an album that is simply put; boring as all hell.
suffers from the immaturity that comes with the change for the group’s poppier direction. A constant “space” theme can be spotted through the album’s runtime; many of the synths carry an empty cadence or a vintage screech that reminiscences of the atmosphere of a trip in space. Interesting in concept, and even more so when demonstrated through the sound of blaring “alarms” on Human Interaction
. The synths form a foundation that alludes to the theme of isolation present on that track brilliantly. It shows that when implemented correctly, there is room to show that Tonight Alive have a good idea up their sleeve. Though execution is half-assed everywhere else. It serves as nothing more than a way to cover up the fact there used to be a groove guitarist hidden somewhere in the band’s lineup and in turn; when combined with a recessive “struggles of love and adversity” approach to lyricism, creates a sound that is as dated as early 2000s pop rock.
The rest of the album becomes hilariously inconsistent with Power of One
, the 8th track of the album, where Tonight Alive completely abandon the poppy synth heavy pop sound for a sound reminiscent of their earlier output… if they were circa 2010 B-Sides. Whether Tonight Alive forgot they had a theme going on or realized it was a bad idea too late into production is beyond me. Though the cheesy “empowering” guitar ballad The Greatest
nor the guitar heavy anti-authority (or any position of power thanks to the vagueness of the lyrics) rock track I Defy
will be enough to compensate.
In the end, Tonight Alive leave behind an album that fails to showcase that they had any solid foundation or idea when climbing aboard the pop bandwagon. The songwriting relies heavily on cheap synths and the lyricism reeks heavily of dated themes that were done and tired by pop rock bands years before them. If not for a solid vocal performance from Jenna, the redeeming factors would be cut down to none. It’s uncertain to know where Tonight Alive will be going next and sadly, it’s not clear if it’s worth finding out. Maybe they shouldn’t have crossed the other side after all.