Wednesday, 1 April 2015

'Future Hearts' by All Time Low

After seeing All Time Low twice last week, I jumped for joy when I saw that the 'Future Hearts' pre-release album stream had been put on Youtube by Hopeless Records. If you know anything about All Time Low, you'll know that they often stream their albums about a week before their release dates, so I'd been expecting this day to come, and I was very glad it had arrived. After hearing 'Something's Gotta Give' and 'Kids In The Dark', I was certain that this was going to be All Time Low's best ever album, so I dived straight in with no qualms. 
Opening track 'Satellite' is one of the shortest All Time Low tracks I've heard, but it's also one of the most intriguing. The gravelly tone in Alex Gaskarth's voice is an aspect that hasn't really been explored in their music before, giving a mature feel to a band who have often only been equated to appealing to younger fans. The difference is style meant that it didn't really feel like one of their songs, but this was actually in a positive way, perfectly demonstrating a skill that they've kept hidden up their sleeves this long. After their last album, 'Don't Panic', it felt like All Time Low had lost the ability to write a standout, interesting song - too many of them sounded similar and faded in together, making it hard to find any songs that were too varied. However this track shows more development in sound than the entirety of 'Don't Panic' put together, which is a massive cause for celebration. 
This feeling continues throughout the majority of the first half of the album. 'Kicking and Screaming' starts with a bang, with a feeling reminiscent of early All Time Low tracks showing that the band definitely don't want to forget their routes, even as they're entering into the release for their sixth album. 'Something's Gotta Give' and 'Kids In The Dark' still sound as good as the did on the day that they debuted, feeling more like instant classics than slow burners, and it's brilliant to know that their skill for writing singles is definitely something that isn't depleting over time. These songs are likely to be on their setlists for years to come, going down in history with the likes of 'Weightless' and 'Dear Maria, Count Me In'.
However, from this point the album just seems to fall a little flat for me. 'Runaways' gets a little bit too overly repetitive, making me feeling a bit bored halfway through the song, and if it can't hold my attention the first time I hear it, it's definitely not going to become one of the more memorable tracks from the album. 'Cinderblock Garden' has an original intro, but soon becomes a generic pop-rock songs with the constantly repeated "oh, oh, oh" really getting on my nerves, and 'Don't You Go' sounds like the poor man's version of 'The Anthem' by Good Charlotte, with overly sexualised pop lyrics thickly spread throughout making me feel more uncomfortable than anything else.
There are still some good moments, most notably the two songs with guest appearances. 'Tidal Waves', which features Mark Hoppus from Blink-182, has been one of the most hyped songs since the tracklisting was announced, specifically because All Time Low started off as a Blink-182 tribute band and it's always inspiring to see people working with their complete idols. While musically it does resemble Blink-182 a little bit, it's not an obvious copy and it still has the ability to stand out on its own, and Mark and Alex's vocals are extremely complementary, making it a brilliant and organic collaboration. The same can be said about Joel Madden's appearance on 'Bail Me Out', with the acoustic at the beginning of the song making it feel more like a bonus track than an album track - it's a very interesting inclusion and I personally think it's brilliant.
One of the most interesting moments on the album is definitely 'Missing You', which makes me think of Mumford and Sons in a way that is not bad at all. With beautiful lyrics and a soaring sound that feels uplifting and inspiring all at once, I can imagine this one quickly becoming a fan favourite in the same vein as 'Therapy' and 'Remembering Sunday', and if Alex doesn't start doing this song in his nightly mid-set acoustic I'll be extremely surprised. My personal favourite moment is most definitely 'Dancing With A Wolf', which has angsty, anger-filled lyrics that are reminiscent of all of the best All Time Low songs (namely 'The Irony of Choking On A Lifesaver' and 'A Love Like War'). Whereas some of the album just feels like the band are going through the motions, 'Dancing With A Wolf' has the band grabbing the bull by the horns and pouring everything into the song, making a dark song that is chockablock with passion, fire and soul.
Closing track 'Old Scars/Future Hearts' is also a great inclusion, with slight aspects that are leaning towards dance elements. It would have been interesting if they'd taken more of a risk with it and turned it into a fully blown dance song, with synths and the suchlike, because the underscored music definitely feels as though it's leaning into that area, but the band seem to hold back for a reason that I can't quite put my finger on. By the end of the song the riffs have built up to a blazing crescendo and the song has a complete life of his own, which definitely takes away from the disappointing beginning, but it still feels as though it has so much unfulfilled potential. 
You can definitely tell that All Time Low have written this album with arenas in mind, because the "woah, oh" and "na, na, na" aspects are consistent in almost every song, so much so that it feels a bit over the top when you listen to it all in one go - it definitely feels more like a collection of individual songs than an album with a cohesive theme riding throughout. However I'm sure that these songs will lend themselves extremely well to a brilliant set live, even if they aren't that great in this context. This album definitely isn't as disappointed as 'Don't Panic', but the band have still got some way to go to be able to make an album that was as utterly flawless as 'Nothing Personal'.

Kicking & Screaming
Something's Gotta Give
Kids In The Dark
Missing You
Cinderblock Garden
Tidal Waves ft. Mark Hoppus
Don't You Go
Bail Me Out ft. Joel Madden
Dancing With A Wolf
The Edge of Tonight
Old Scars/Future Hearts

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