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ATP! Album Review: All Time Low - Don't Panic

Overlooking the fact that (let’s face it, at least...) 50% of All Time Low’s fanbase is not yet of age to vote, arguably their 5th studio album “Don’t Panic” has been more highly anticipated than the upcoming Presidential election. With what seemed like an age following up the efforts of what, in reality, was only last year’s “Dirty Work”, the resounding verdict is a little less drawn out: the wait was definitely worth it.

Sometimes it’s easy to categorize a band of this level of fame with that level of combined attractiveness as at best, generic pop-punk, and at worst, simply a bunch of pretty faces. Fear not, “Don’t Panic” looks sure to cement them as so much more, not that most people needed telling. The four-piece, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, have come a long way in the nine years they’ve been together, giving them the right to champion their own sound just as much as that of any other established acts of their genre. That explains why, rather than drawing on influences of those bands, the guys say they’ve just combined all the best bits from their own previous albums that make their sound what it is - “All Time Low writing All Time Low songs”, as it were. And it works.

With trademark catchiness evident right from the get go, ATL launch right into this onslaught as they mean to continue. From opener ‘The Reckless and The Brave’, the tone prepares us for an almost autobiographical record, one filled with pride in what they’ve already accomplished, particularly in the last five years or so.  It’s clear the passion still stands in their convictions – they just want to be heard.

Whilst sing-alongs are what All Time Low invoke best, and whilst, yes, these are sure to be in abundance, there’s some surprisingly thought provoking lyrics on the record. Although pop-punk isn’t always famed for its seriousness, it’s fair to say it's almost always relatable. Besides, there tend to be a few little gems when artists step it up a notch, which these guys have certainly done. An upbeat intro isn’t enough to disguise the angsty punchiness on ‘The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver’, but it works, even in its somewhat simplistic nature. In contrast, ‘Somewhere In Neverland’ lets us reminisce in both memories and regrets, adding a certain nostalgic element, while ‘So Long, Soldier’ brings us the heart-warming yet attitude-ridden tale of the band’s proud rise to stardom, starting right from back when frontman Alex Gaskarth flew from across the pond as a kid to start his American dream.

For those hoping to fill a Fall Out Boy shaped void in their hearts, ‘Outlines’, co-written by the one and only Patrick Stump, might just do the trick. Far from sounding like a carbon copy of their predecessors, the track captures everything which makes Stump great, whilst still being unique enough to sound more ATL than FOB. ‘Outlines’ plays host to guest vocals from Jason Vena of Acceptance, which adds yet another layer to the intricate mix, yet it’s almost a shame Stump himself didn’t give it a go. As one of the latter tracks on the record, there’s an almost dark semblance, much like with ‘Thanks To You’, which, although bouncy in places, conjures pretty haunting imagery in its talk of skeletons and ghosts throughout.

First single ‘For Baltimore’ is brilliantly energetic; a fast paced, dancey, fun number, complete with poppy hooks and rocky guitars to die for. Whatever your opinions on the band, it’s hard not to find yourself caught up in every second. On that note, a breakdown of such an awesome record should not be complete without a mention of yet another catchy-as-hell tune, a closing number which will be sure stick in your head long after the final chords ring out. With excellent drum crescendos, fierce yet mysterious guitars and bass lines, and of course, ever-infectious vocals, ‘So Long, And Thanks For All The Booze’ is not to be forgotten.

“Don’t Panic” has been created as a record for old and new fans alike. And, dare we say, it won’t disappoint those who felt a little cheated by “Dirty Work”. With summer now long faded into oblivion, it can be hard to capture the youthful, carefree feelings that come along with it, but this 12 track epic should see you through ‘til spring. Back on Hopeless Records once again, and back to their home-grown roots, this band are going from strength-to-strength. Pop-punk isn’t dead; in fact, it may just have raised the stakes.


"Don't Panic" is out on October 9th through Hopeless Records.

Claire Louise Sheridan

Alter The Press!