Sound — 8
"Welcome Home" is the debut record from Stoke four-piece, All The Young. Despite the bands name and general image suggesting possibly, dare I say it, an "emo" band, these lads have delivered for me a very strong debut and possibly one of I suspect few straight-up rock records in 2012. The band's dynamic fuses a musical backdrop constantly upbeat, led by straight-forward simple go effective lead guitar lines, backed by driving rhythm guitar and bass. The style is probably most comparable to "Dizzy Up The Girl"/"Gutterflower" era Goo Goo Dolls. What brings an overall freshness to the sound however is the vocal style, not the familiar young indie-drawl but more reminiscent of warmer, richer sounding English singers like Guy Harvey from Elbow or Jimi Goodwin from Doves. The opening combination of "Another Miracle", "Today" and "This Is The First Time", plus "Here To Stay" later in the record, actually prove hard to differentiate at first, all fast paced and extremely positive in spirit with some of the most notable guitar work. Some may deem it a formulaic start but given a couple of spins the truly infectious nature of each chorus hits home. "New Education" and "The Horizon" retain the upbeat nature but break the formula up, the former acoustic led, with almost a protest-song swing to it, the latter carrying a huge sense of epic not dissimilar to Noel Gallagher's recent solo single "If I Had A Gun". "Quiet Night In", with its vocals and guitar interludes going back and forth throughout, proves to be one of the more directly-rocking moments, more in line with archetypal UK indie-rock scene. The closing one-two of "Arcane" and title track "Welcome Home" sends the record out in style, both tracks possessing slightly darker edges. The latter in particular is very strong, from gradual vocal and guitar only beginnings its ventures into the more steady, epic territory, igniting a couple of fast paced jams towards its climax.
Lyrics — 8
Throughout the record the lyrics are very uplifting, the underlying sentiment ultimately being that you've got be grateful for each day and live life to the full. You've not got to look too far beyond the song titles to see this, but the wording and emotive vocals do hammer home the message every time, "Today" being the strongest moment for me personally, dismissing the naysayers and embracing immediate change. Like they do musically, "Arcane" and "Welcome Home" carry a darker feel, emphasis more on the struggle in making a change.
Overall Impression — 8
"Welcome Home" is a great pop-rock release, with 10 tracks of emotive, very upbeat nature, backed by straight forward chords and lead, all led by a refreshing vocal sound. The only drawback on initial listen is the formulaic nature to a portion of the record, repeated listens does clear this up though, I view it more from the perspective of its a very good one-trick-pony, not a bland tiresome one. Guitar rock is very much a dying format in the UK, hopefully these lads can be part of a fightback.