All Time Low

Dirty Work

Written by: PP on 07/07/2011 06:39:21

All signs are pointing towards All Time Low becoming the next Fall Out Boy, if they aren't that already. They both look and sound like a pop punk juggernaut ready to embrace the mainstream in full on their fourth album "Dirty Work", their major label debut, which incidentally is also the poppiest and least punk material they have written to date. To be fair, previous album "Nothing Personal" already toyed with an ultra poppy sound, but it did so in a playful and cheekily enjoyable way (see: "Weightless"), but this one takes it to a whole new level.

All Time Low start things off with an unsurprising pop punk opener in "Do You Want Me (Dead?)", which slavishly follows the genre formula with a couple of semi-catchy verse lines before a power pop chorus takes over. It's no different from their previous two albums and should therefore land well with their fans. The following song "I Feel Like Dancin'" is the first sign of All Time Low abandoning their pop punk roots in favour of straight-forward pop rock songs, but because of its extremely cheesy melody and a catchy chorus, it is a worthwhile listen even if it pops off a few credibility points from me as a reviewer. Then comes "Forget About It", whose chorus sounds unmistakably like Fall Out Boy from "Infinity On High"-era, where Stump's voice moved from naturally good to autotuned and over polished, but it's a decent song nonetheless. Not a great one, but good enough for a sing-along. It's another example of All Time Low following a similar career path as FOB did before them, and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

Track four is a little more anonymous, but the next section is saved by "Time Bomb", a smash hit type of song that's so infectiously catchy and bouncy in its chorus that it might eventually overtake "Dear Maria, Count Me In" as the song you associate to All Time Low upon hearing the band name. Sure, its disco beat and soft vocals make it one of the most pop songs the band has written, but pop rock doesn't come much better than this, honestly. Should the whole album consist of instantly memorable songs like this one that translate into wild crowd participation live (as yours truly witnessed twice already this summer), we'd be dealing with a bombastic pop rock album shooting straight for the top 10s this year.

But as you'll have guessed, that's not the case with "Dirty Work", as a large portion of the second half of the album is anonymous and forgettable, if not outright useless. That's what you get when you begin working with mainstream song writers whose only concern is to write a couple of hit singles to sell the record and then fill the rest of the record with passable songs to charge the full price of an album. One of the most irritating symptoms for moving neck-deep into the mainstream like this is that the summery feel that previously surrounded All Time Low albums has been replaced with a soulless, dime-a-dozen pop rock with predictable structure and a complete lack of the quintessential fun-factor which exists in their live show. Instead, vocalist Alex sounds unenthusiastic and unexcited to be singing these songs, a polar opposite of his on-stage persona and execution.

So despite a few solid pop rock tracks, the majority of "Dirty Work" is underwhelming and disappointing. For every great song there are two that have you staring at the title in the track listing without the ability to remember how the song actually goes. I suspect that Alex & co will be able to rescue them live with their endless enthusiasm and light-hearted jokes, but that just doesn't happen on this record as a whole.

Download: Time Bomb, I Feel Like Dancin', That Girl
For the fans of: Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High era), The Maine, The Summer Set,
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.06.2011

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