Last Young Renegade review by All Time Low

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  • Released: Jun 2, 2017
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 4.9 (21 votes)
All Time Low: Last Young Renegade
3

Sound — 4
In the past several years, we've seen a growing divide within the pop punk subgenre between bands that emphasize the punk half in their sound, and bands that emphasize the pop half in their sound. With the latter subset gaining more prominence simply from veteran pop punk bands expanding from their root style (Paramore, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, etc.), All Time Low have been making that pivot slowly but surely. Having become a poster band for the pop punk/emo scene with true-to-form albums like 2007's "So Wrong, It's Right" and 2009's "Nothing Personal," the Baltimore quartet have been integrating more pop characteristics into their sound in their more recent albums, heard in 2011's "Dirty Work" and 2015's "Future Hearts."

Now on their seventh album, "Last Young Renegade," All Time Low are all but entirely ready to ditch their pop punk base for a sound that mainly taps into Top 40 pop. With the only songs on the album still maintaining a pop punk style being the upbeat "Nice2KnoU" and the steady eponymous song, the majority of the album shows the band leaning more on big production value, primarily shown in synth-dominated songs like "Dirty Laundry," or "Ground Control," which features Tegan and Sara singing the chorus.

Aside from the point that this is a style change that makes All Time Low generally sound like any other rock-turned-pop band like Maroon 5 or OneRepublic, the biggest disservice this pivot does is deprive All Time Low of their instrumental strengths. Synthesized rhythms relieve drummer Rian Dawson and bassist Zack Merrick of their duties more often than not, heard in the hip hop style of "Life Of The Party," or the EDM-influenced songs of "Good Times" and "Dark Side Of Your Room," and though lead guitarist Jack Barakat still manages to contribute some feasible guitar riffs a few times, whether in "Drugs & Candy," "Nightmares" or "Afterglow," it's far from his full potential. As for frontman Alex Gaskarth, his singing still remains a strong sonic beacon throughout, though with occasional moments of too much reverb, or the DJ Snake-style vocal sampling used in "Good Times" and "Life Of The Party," the vocal element of the album also becomes encumbered by an overcompensating production value.

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Lyrics — 7
Similarly to the lyrics in "Future Hearts," Gaskarth and company continue reflecting upon their life as All Time Low in "Last Young Renegade," but in contrast to the previous album focusing more on the arduous grind of their unsigned years chasing their dream of being rock stars, "Last Young Renegade" focuses more on the simple joys of living that dream. With the carefree, live-in-the-now disposition reminisced upon in "Good Times" ("When we laughed, we cried / Those were the days, we owned the nights / Locked away, lost in time") and "Afterglow" ("Alright, we can go all night / 'Cause we got a whole lot of fight in us / And I see a long road that we gotta follow / Before tomorrow catches up"), as well as in the instant romance of "Nice2KnoU" ("This night is far from over / Far from over / Let's get carried away"), Gaskarth's fond reflections of the past is as much a yearning for lost youth as it is an appreciation for the hedonism fleeting by on a nightly basis.

However, Gaskarth also shows his own threshold with a life lived as a blur of debauchery in "Life Of The Party" ("In a sea of strangers / I can't find me anymore"), and from pining over an old flame in the eponymous song ("You were my last young renegade heartache / How could I let you / How could I let you go?"), to stressing over long-distance love in "Ground Control" ("My systems are critical / Gotta find my way back to you / Feels like I'm drifting alone"), it's easy to see Gaskarth wouldn't be able to live that kind of life forever, and is better off cherishing that era from afar.

Overall Impression — 4
Given their past few albums inching their way closer to a pop sound, All Time Low's strong commitment to that in "Last Young Renegade" was simply a matter of when it would happen, and with every seasoned band wrestling with the choice of sticking to what they know or moving on to new things, it's a shift that's understandable. However, this leap into pop territory shows All Time Low renouncing their tried and true strengths as pop punk musicians and failing to gain any new strengths in return. Ultimately, their step onto the mainstream pop path in "Last Young Renegade" blurs in with all the other pop bands that have walked the same route, resulting in All Time Low sounding less like themselves and more like everyone else.

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11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Altitudinous
    I love All Time Low, but the only song I think I'll be coming back to is "Last Young Renegade". I fucking love that song. The rest of the record just kinda has this air of like.. rainy late night, poppy but dark, and it kinda hangs heavy on my ears/mind when I'm used to ATL lifting me up and making me wanna sing loud and pump my fist and stuff. I still love 'em and will see 'em live again but (and I hate to say this) this one kinda let me down. 
    HashtagMC
    Kinda hard to believe that this was pop punk... "Dookie" apparently also is pop-punk, but it's hard to believe they're even a bit the same genre... I don't know much of their songs, only a handful (Therapy, Backseat Serenade, Kids in the Dark), but what I've heard from this new album about as far away from the "punk" in pop-punk as it gets. Like Justin Bieber with a guitar.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    I mean if you only know 1 of their ballads, 1 song where they were cleary already turning away from the pop-punk roots and 1 song where they were even more pop, you don't really have a right to make a claim like this.  listen to their early stuff and you'll see that they were maybe a bit more pop than green day was, but definitly fit that genre at that time. also, comparing bands is never a smart thing to do.  Green Day are  (pop) Punk giants.  Gun to my head, if I had to compare All time Low's older stuff with another band, it would probably be something like New Found Glory (the newer stuff) or State Champs or Neck Deep. Example of an older more pop punk song:
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    HashtagMC
    My apologies - the "they hardly fit the same genre" was meant regarding what I've heard from the new album in comparison to Dookie-era or even Kerplunk-era Green Day. I didn't meant to judge the entire discography of the band. Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes And you're right, that sounds way more pop-punk.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    no problem mate, you didn't step on any toes, it just seemed weird to judge a band when you've only known 3 songs, but your reasoning seems valid I guess.   That being said, I like that you are a person who can react in such a nice way. In this era, I kind of thought I'd get a "stfu" reaction or something haha
    HashtagMC
    That kind of reaction would be childish, wouldn't it. I always try to be reasonable and polite when someone points out my mistakes Though I don't always succeed.
    AlTheCharmander
    My issue with this album is that it feels really rushed and unorganized. Alex Gaskarth claimed that this was going to be a concept album, but let's face it: if there is a concept here, it is very loose and not executed well. Not only that, but the the vast majority of this album contains a lot of weak tracks; the singles were the only good part about the album. I think the thing that bothers me most is the last two or three tracks on the album, particularly the track "Afterglow," which has one of the most abrupt and weak endings to a song that I have ever heard, and considering that this is supposed to be the track that wraps up the entire project, I can easily say without hesitation that I was very disappointed with it. Also, quick note: "Ground Control" might as well just have been a Tegan and Sara song, considering they sang on almost the entire track. Don't get me wrong, I love All Time Low, and they'll always be one of my favorite bands (they got me into pop punk for crying out loud), but I had a lot of anticipation for this album, and I was really let down by it. Oh well, at least it's not Future Hearts.