All Time Low set the bar pretty high with the release of Don’t Panic, and the consequent Don’t Panic: It’s Longer Now! However, they seem to hit the mark again with their sixth studio album, Future Hearts, which is full of wonderful, exploratory tones and booming, anthemic new tracks. It isn’t the most consistent effort from the band, but it’s a stunning addition to their discography.
Kicking off with “Sattelites,” Gaskarth’s normal explosive tenor seems gruffer. The track is attention grabbing, and within just a short two and a half minutes, All Time Low set the tone for the rest of the album; it’s a disc of powerful, anthemic songs, such as “Kids In The Dark,” “Old Scars/Future Hearts,” and “Runaways.”
“Kids In The Dark” showcases wonderful lyrics, a catchy arrangement, and highlight the idea of the unity in the diversity of the crowds at a live show; the bond formed when you meet someone who shares your love for a band. When you go to a show, there’s no, “Oh, I hate that girl/guy/etc.” There’s not a worry in the world. You just get to feel invincible and empowered. Barakat and Gaskarth’s guitar skills are enviable on this track. However, it’s “Dancing With a Wolf” that truly leaves me in awe, with incredible rhythm (courtesy of Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick, who seem to coordinate effortlessly), like a shocking, cinematic, bitter, “goodbye, good riddance,” anthem. If someone has recently done you wrong, this is your new favorite song. It’s certainly a more aggressive approach on ATL’s part.
“Kick & Screaming” brings back the upbeat familiarity, with a catchy, chorus that will make you want to jump around and sing loudly, as though no one else exists; perfectly showcases ATL’s ability to put a smile on your face, even on a bad day. It’s a kiss off and goodbye to those holding you back from your dream or dragging you down a path you don’t want to go; it’s choosing your dream: “Say hello to all my little nightmares, they’re all right here. I know them well.” If you compare Nothing Personal to Future Hearts, you can tell it is the same band, but the development is astounding. In fact, it’s that progression over the last few years that make it possible for them to pull off messing with different genres, as they do on the wonderful folk-styled “Missing You.” There’s something quirky and beautiful about the song; it’s not a mushy love song, before you jump to conclusions. It’s about reaching out to someone who is struggling and being a friend to them. “Hold on tight, this ride is a wild one […] Now, don’t lose your fight, kid […] With so much left to do, you’ll be missing out, and we’ll be missing you,” Gaskarth croons alongside a stomping, upbeat instrumental.
And who can forget about “Something’s Gotta Give,” the catchy first single we all fell in love with? It’s hard not to picture Gaskarth as a zombie dressed as French fries whenever I hear this now, but the track itself is as refreshing as a thunderstorm during a hot summer drought, utilizing vocal harmonies, group vocals, and incredibly high-energy instrumentals, also seen on Warped Tour worthy, booming party-anthem “Don’t You Go.”
Of course, Future Hearts also features two awesome cameos; one from Mark Hoppus on “Tidal Waves,” and one from Joel Madden on “Bail Me Out,” both of which are excellently delivered. “Tidal Waves,” released as a single on March 26th, has a Simple Plan-esque/ballad vibe to it. Hoppus’s appearance blends beautifully, and I’d love to see this performed live. This is a track to get the lighters out to. It’s beautifully crafted and filled with emotive power, with building, rich instrumentals, which make another appearance on “The Edge of Tonight.” The song is melodic, with gorgeous, luscious instrumentals and vivid imagery. It fits well with the rest of the album, and still sounds so different; ATL sound like an arena band. I can see this song being played live in a jam-packed, sold-out stadium, with lights from cellphones and lighters covering the studio and painting the most beautiful picture.
With tracks like “Kids In The Dark,” “Cinderblock Garden,” and “Old Scars/Future Hearts,” all of which build, it’s not hard to image this album being played live. Future Hearts plays out like the perfect live show, ending with a booming finale that will have crowds jumping, screaming, and pumped up.
All Time Low’s Future Hearts is out on April 3rd. Pick up a copy HERE.
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