Review: “Future Hearts” by All Time Low
It’s hardly news to anyone that I’m a massive All Time Low fan. A proud Hustler, I’ve seen the guys 6 times and I’m booked to see them again in August. I’ve also been lucky enough to get early entry to their shows twice, as well as meeting the band 3 times – including once when I got to see the show sidestage. It’s been quite some time since the 2012 release of their last full-length album “Don’t Panic” with the quartet opting to release a deluxe edition of the album (aptly called “Don’t Panic – It’s Longer Now” in September 2013. Fans were given a taste of the new record in January 2015 when the video for “Something’s Gotta Give” was uploaded to the Hopeless Records YouTube channel. Another music video later, and the album “Future Hearts” was finally released – here in the UK, the album debuted at number 1 in the album chart, echoing the success of former tour buddies You Me At Six.
But, what does the album sound like? If you’re familiar with All Time Low, you’ll know that they’re one of the most prominent pop-punk bands of today’s music scene; they can count some of the industry’s most famous musicians among their friends whilst also getting involved in the creative process of other bands’ records too. When it was announced that both Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, would be featuring on the new record, fans all over the world were gearing up to experience one of the most pop-punk albums you could ever have. However, those expectations may not necessarily have been met.
The album starts with the anthemic “Satellite” – a song that sounds as though it was written to kick off the arena shows that the band are now playing worldwide. Although slower than a lot of ATL’s previous material, it is indicative of the more mature sound that the guys are starting to showcase; evidently stated in the crescendo of “we were just kids, we were just kids singing”. It leads in nicely to “Kicking and Screaming” which sounds a lot more like the All Time Low that their fans know and love, and will most likely be singing along to at the top of their lungs. The magic pop-punk formula seems to include of one essential component; a catchy chorus, and this is something that All Time Low possess the ability to write by the bucketload. As well as on “Kicking and Screaming” the chorus is the highlight of “Runaways” a song which will be a sure fire hit at live shows and again has a more arena-like feel to it.
So far, the band have released 2 singles from the album. “Something’s Gotta Give” has a slightly slower pace than previous All Time Low singles, but it went down a storm on the recent UK tour! I honestly wish that “Kids In The Dark” had been released prior to the UK tour in February – it’s anthemic and more poppy feel sits perfectly with the fanbase, along with the UV paint showcased in the video. I have a feeling there’s gonna be quite a lot of paint at the Edinburgh show in August!
The results of the collaborations definitely came as a surprise – first up is “Tidal Waves” featuring Mark Hoppus. This is a slow song, which I definitely did not expect given Blink 182’s track record of fast guitars and drums across numerous albums. The song shows off lead singer Alex Gaskarth’s vocals perfectly whilst creating a chilled ambience through the verses and chorus. Were the vocals of Mark Hoppus needed? Not particularly, but it’s a nice addition. A couple of songs later we have “Bail Me Out” with Joel Madden; although slightly faster-paced, again it doesn’t have the expected punk feel you have with Good Charlotte songs. It’s catchy as hell, but not a highlight of the record. No All Time Low show is complete without an acoustic rendition of a epic song. Most shows feature either “Remembering Sunday” or “Therapy” or if you’re lucky, both. There’s a new contender for this part of the show now, as “Missing You” brought me to tears on my first listen. It’s a stand-out track for me, and spreads the important message of holding on when things get tough, which is sure to resonate with the band’s primarily teenage audience. There’s a curveball with bonus track “Your Bed” which doesn’t quite sound like the ATL we’re familiar with, but a good song nonetheless.
As always, there are a couple of tracks that don’t quite make the grade for me personally. Although popular with some fans, “The Edge of Tonight” comes across as being somewhat slushy. That said, the chorus does stretch Alex’s vocals, but it’s a track that I wouldn’t miss had it not been included on the album. “Cinderblock Garden” is one of those tracks that grows on you, however the deluxe edition sports an acoustic version of the song which actually sits better with me; the chorus doesn’t quite have that “wow” factor on the electric rendition that so many of the others have.
But All Time Low know what sells, and although they’ve taken a more mature approach to some of their new songs, the album also has an abundance of classic pop-punk that you would expect from the guys. Highlights include “Don’t You Go” and “Bottle and a Beat” that both feature catchy riffs from guitarist Jack Barakat and bassist Zack Merrick as well as faster-paced drums from Rian Dawson. Ironically, “Don’t You Go” is reminiscent of Good Charlotte’s “The Anthem”. The guitar riffs also stand out on “Dancing With a Wolf” which is a more “in your face” kind of song.
The standard edition of the album concludes with “Old Scars/Future Hearts” which really showcases the band at their absolute best; hopeful and optimistic, instilling the inspiration to follow your dreams in the hearts of hundreds of thousands (“I won’t fade away, be forgotten or just cast away”), whilst accepting that everyone has their own battles to fight in order to make those dreams a reality (“we got scars on our future hearts but we never look back”).
Overall? It’s definitely the most mature offering from All Time Low so far. They haven’t grown up just yet; you can guarantee that you’ll still have the jokes and banter on stage. But it marks the start of a new chapter for the band: their popularity is about to explode.