All Time Low is a pop punk project that sprung out of Baltimore in 2003. Influenced by notable pop punk band Blink-182, All Time Low was on the forefront of the softening of the punk scene. With their sixth album Future Hearts, they continue the trend of teenybopper pop punk power ballads and casual emo revival.
Future Hearts was released on April 7. The album is very unceremonious, which unfortunately is the merit of not taking any risks. While the tracks are catchy and mildly interesting, they’re lackluster. Maybe that’s one of the best aspects of the pop punk genre. While the music is catchy, it’s also very one-dimensional and therefore easy to like.
This is unsurprising, considering this album was produced by John Feldmann. He also produced their 2011 album Dirty Work, a body of work criticized almost entirely for being bland and emotionless. If anything, Future Hearts is everything that Dirty Work could have been. Following their heaviest album to date, 2012’s Don’t Panic, the band chose to adopt a more mainstream sound. This, combined with the crisp vocals of lead singer and guitarist Alex Gaskarth, are what support this album almost entirely.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With their ‘poppier’ sound, the band extends their reach to a larger audience. Tracks such as “Satellite” are guaranteed to get radio play while others like “Don’t You Go” and “Kids In The Dark” are catchy and lyrically enticing. However, it isn’t as strong as their earlier albums. I expected a lot more creativity and musical originality from the sixth album of a band I’ve been following since the early 2000s and was let down a little by this most recent project.
“Kicking And Screaming,” “Something’s Gotta Give” and the indie pop-esque “Runaways” carry this album with their energy and heavier instrumentation. The track that stood out the most to me was the acoustic “Missing You,” which features mandolin riffs and weird folk vibes. The cameos on the album, which include Joel Madden and Mark Hoppus, are forgettable and two-dimensional.
At the end of the day, Future Hearts is a solid body of work with a consistent sound. However, the grey-scale, lack of emotion, and quieter instrumentation take a lot away from the final project as a whole. Regardless of this, it’s an incredibly captivating album — and if you can look past these few errors, should be a nice soundtrack to the summer.
Favorite Tracks: “Don’t You Go”, “Missing You”