All Time Low are currently hot property, having played all of the major arenas across the UK alongside You Me AT Six. The release of their latest and sixth album Future Hearts will therefore need to be strong enough to match this new found popularity.
The album kicks off well enough with an opening song titled Satellite lead by strong drum rhythms of Rian Dawson and a prominent bass from Zack Merrick. The tone is heavier and more subdued than the usual ATL delivery, resulting in a memorable opener. Whilst the Instrumentation is similar to their previous releases the combination of solid drum and bass is a strength running through the whole album.
The second track Kicking & Screaming is the classic All Time Low sound we expect– a characteristic solid gold pop-punk stand-out track that showcase Alex Gaskarth’s vocal to the full and which is guaranteed to be an instant hit with the fans.
Kids in the Dark and Runaway also follow the All Time Low tried and trusted formula; Kids in the Dark is a stand-out emo-rock track with a sing-a-long anthemic chorus. Runaway, although full of catchy hooks, is rather unremarkable and disappointingly flat, failing to deliver the same punch.
The standout songs of this album are Dancing With a Wolf and Missing You both showing how the band have grown up and are moving away from their teenage beginnings.
Dancing With a Wolf delivers a much darker but buoyant dance-rock track than is usually associated with All Time Low. Amped up electric guitars and a driving bass produce a memorable and catchy performance.
Future Hearts highlights a departure from the classic pop-punk formula with the introduction of a number of slower songs of slower songs such as Missing You. This delivers a completely different sound – an acoustic track with guitar and ukulele and lyrics that are delivering a poignant message. The simple string accompaniment emphasises the strong vocals and again shows thatAll Time Low are growing up.
All Time Low invitation to a number of guest vocalists unfortunately doesn’t quite live up to the expectations. Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) features on Tidal Waves during the second verse, but his vocals lack the impact that you would expect, although the chorus is memorable.
The second invited artist Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) makes an appearance in Bail Me Out This, unfortunately, comes across as a filler track and is disappointingly bland despite Madden trading off verses and choruses throughout with Alex.
An attempt at an arena-style rock ballad with Edge of Tonight despite an attempt at a catchy chorus is surprisingly lacking and somewhat bland.
The closing track however Old Scars/Future Hearts is a return to All Time Low at their best – full of energy throughout.
Overall Future Hearts, produced by John Feldmann, provides a consistent sound – a mix of light ballads and bass-driven anthems, interspersed with some catchy tunes and provides a definite development from Dirty Work with its more grown up vibe that may take some getting used to.
It is not their best collection of songs but most are as good as what they have done before. Lyrically the songs do not stand out but the vocals of Alex Gaskarth are on point and the harmonies superb. The album is however fun – but more ambitious in scope and with a bit more studio polish than their previous releases.
Written By: Lindsy Stott