Baltimore four-piece; All Time Low, are back with Last Young Renegade, the band’s seventh record since forming in 2003. Pop punk remains an incredibly popular genre, with fans of All Time Low set to lap this release up with eagerness. But to the more casual listener, Last Young Renegade occupies a musical middle ground that is unlikely to convert them to the bands bolshy style.
The record’s eponymous track is pleasant, light-hearted and – don’t shoot – could easily have found its way onto a One Direction album. The lines between pop and pop-punk are now so blurred that as a standalone genre, there is little innovation occurring. Last Young Renegade; and sadly much of the record, sticks to a formula that wears thin after the first few listens. It’s clear All Time Low have passion for what they do, but they occupy a very specific niche where it’s easy to come across as contrived rather than with integrity.
Drugs & Candy seems a more genuine effort, but the cliched lyrics do not take long to trigger wincing or other such reactions. All Time Low seem to be stuck in an early 2000s time-warp where Busted and McFly never existed, so they have entered the fray as a mix of the two. But lads, we have McBusted now. Dirty Laundry premiered on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show, and no doubt set legions of young All Time Low fans off on yet another fan cycle. For those who occupy a slightly older age bracket, the phenomenon of this band doesn’t fully make sense. Yet All Time Low continue to sell out tours, play huge festival slots and release popular records. But the market is so saturated by bands such as Twenty-One Pilots et all that All Time Low risk fading into obscurity sooner rather than later.
The writing of Nice2KnoU may encourage more than a few to hit the skip button but, rather than be hasty; stick around as this provides one of the brightest moments across the album. Channelling pop punk royalty Blink 182, All Time Low finally hit upon the magic the first few cuts lacked. The energy is turned all the way up to 100 as is the intensity and appeal. This is the track to convert those who question the credentials of All Time Low. Life Of The Party is the alt equivalent of Tik-Tok by Ke$ha, with bodies passed out in hotel rooms and the catchiest identity crisis you will ever lend ears to. Whilst it’s nice to know artists share the struggles of the every day person, there is a real risk of coming across as ungrateful for success and this tune errs very closely to that cut off point.
Surprises on albums are pretty few and far between, but the presence of queer icons Tegan & Sara on Ground Control is up there with the best of them. The two parties compliment each other’s style well, and help bridge the gap most pop-punk acts have made toward more synth based styles. Ground Control is the major highlight amongst a mixed bag of tracks, it soars into great song territory with relative ease and although a little too late; really makes for an enjoyable close to a mostly filler no killer record.
Afterglow is the final entry on All Time Low’s most recent effort, and highlights the band’s ability to veer toward a ballad albeit in a very pop-punk kind of way. Last Young Renegade is an album from a band who enjoy the nostalgia and youth of a genre going through somewhat of a revival. Not everyone will get why bands such as All Time Low are still releasing music, but there is a soothing quality across Last Young Renegade that takes people back to the blissful days where the only worry they had was which band t-shirt to pair with their drainpipe skinny jeans. The sun may be setting on bands like All Time Low, but they’re far from ready to quit having fun just yet.