Reflecting On: Anberlin – New Surrender

“When I was 13 / I had my first love / There was nobody that compares to my baby / And nobody came between us / No one could ever come above”.

What does Ludacris’ verse on Justin Bieber’s critically acclaimed single “Baby” have to do with Anberlin? If you’re like me: Everything.

You can buy or stream New Surrender on Apple Music.

When I was 13, I thought I knew everything there was to know about music. I thought Tooth and Nail was the best record label. I was trying to come into my own personality. In reality, I was just pretentious and nobody wanted to listen to the cool music I found because of my attitude. The biggest band for me during that time period was Anberlin. They opened the door to the rest of the alt rock world and still continue to blow me away today.

When I found them, I was listening to my favorite internet station, RadioU. The band’s cover of New Order’s “True Faith” was playing and I was obsessed with the guitar riff. I know, weird to get into a band via a song that’s not even theirs. If you actually listen to the track, though, (you’ll have to do so on YouTube, as it’s no longer on Spotify), it sounds authentically Anberlin. It took me a while to find out who it was (it being the radio and all), but once I did, there was no turning back. I became a fan of Anberlin—a Fanberlin, if you will.

All of this brings me to their 2008 release, New Surrender. The album is criminally underrated. It came a mere year after what many claim is their greatest achievement, Cities. It can be tempting to write off the album that comes after a band’s best, and oftentimes, you’d be correct to do that. But with New Surrender, I think you’d be wrong to.

I’ll admit that the album isn’t Anberlin’s strongest. It came in a tumultuous period in the band’s history. They’d just signed to a major label and released the best album of their career. It’s hard to put your best foot forward as that kind of pressure mounts. So the band gave it a shot. New Surrender isn’t hard-hitting like Cities was, and it’s not quite as melodically pleasing like Never Take Friendship Personal. The album, though, has some of the most meaningful lyrics Anberlin has to offer. From the emotional and mildly petty “Breaking” to the thematically heavy “Soft Skeletons”, the band really gave something for everyone.

Here is an overview of some of my favorite tracks:

“Breaking”, simply because it’s a classic. There’s no Anberlin without “Breaking”. If you disagree, you can come fight me. You know I’m right.

“Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)” because of the story. The song was written because of an episode of plane turbulence and basically reckoning with the fact that it could all be over in a second, making the most of what we have and the time we have to enjoy it.

“Younglife” has a special meaning for me lately in a way it hasn’t previously. I used to think fondly of high school and hanging out with my friends and messing around, like in the first verse. But as I think about my upcoming marriage, I think about the second verse: “Hey lover / Do you remember when / We used to dance in our apartment ‘till neighbors would knock on our door / And I remember / Do you remember when / We had no money to speak of / Nowhere else to eat but your floor / I wanna do it again”.

“Haight St.” has that same kind of connotation for me. It’s a fun track and one of the band’s more upbeat offerings, so there’s that for a stylistic approach. The whole album just holds this intense nostalgia as I’m looking back at my younger days. Old enough to know, too young to care.

So I don’t know if this has been so much of a reflection as it has been a, “Hey this album is still very relevant!” That’s what makes New Surrender timeless. It brought me through high school and the weird turbulence that is adolescence and now it’s here to remind me of the little things like building my first dining room table. It’s a picture of how to hone in on the finer points of life.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Advertisements

Podcast: The Best of Anberlin

Later this month, New Surrender turns 10 years old. Kiel Hauck and Nadia Paiva took the album’s anniversary as an opportunity to discuss Anberlin’s legacy and the impact of their major label debut. They break down Anberlin’s discography, rank their favorite songs, and share some of their favorite memories of one of the most influential and underrated bands in the history of the scene. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What is your favorite Anberlin album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: As It Is – The Great Depression

As It Is are one of the treasures of new-wave pop punk. While they could have easily become just another New Found Glory clone, they have spent their career expanding their sound with each album, as though they are trying to find the essence of pop punk itself. The Great Depression, though, sounds like a true sequel to the band’s sophomore effort, Okay. Where that album used pop to show how the outside world sees someone suffering within themselves, The Great Depression relies on hard rock to show how someone suffering sees the outside world.

You can buy or stream The Great Depression on Apple Music.

The Great Depression is an aggressive album that doesn’t try to solve the issue of depression. Instead, it takes aim at society’s quiet acceptance while attempting to remove the romanticism of the idea in general (“I know this isn’t something you’re going to like to hear / Which is exactly why you need to hear this”). As It Is borrows liberally from the emo bands of the mid-2000’s, even going so far as to carry a very deliberate My Chemical Romance homage in their recent music videos.

Guitarist Benjamin Langford-Biss’s guitarwork utterly changes gears for this album. He delves much deeper into a new, harder sounds that significantly expands the band’s range (“The Reaper”, “The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)”). Bassist Alistair Testo builds a steady background of rough pop that bounces the tracks along despite how hard the guitars get. However, drummer Patrick Foley may be the hidden MVP of the album. His walls of percussion are extravagantly diverse, as though he was working overtime to impress guest vocalist Aaron Gillespie (“The Reaper”).

Likewise, vocalist Patty Walters gives a career best performance. He is pitch perfect for a pop record, but it’s the hints of screaming that make the performance. It adds an edge and urgency that matches the harsh aesthetic.

The Great Depression is a concept album that follows a character who personifies depression as either God or death itself. Either way, this being represents a society that is impartial or unconcerned with the struggles of mental illness. It is an element that adds chaos to someone who just strives to find peace.

Some songs take on depression in general, such as, “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)”, as Walters sings, “I see a pain behind your eyes / I know you feel it everyday / It’s like a light that slowly dies / But it’s better not to say / It’s better not to say such things out loud”.

Other songs address this entity cursing the narrator’s life directly. During “The Reaper”, Walters sings, “I used to sing his praise / But now there’s no sweetness in his name / He’s been dying to show me to my grave”. “The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)” bargains with the entity for a normal life. “I tell him there’s no chance, I’m not giving him my soul / It doesn’t feel it now but I know my heart is full / I’m not sure he’s right, but I’m not sure he’s wrong / I’m just desperate to belong”.

Closing track, “The End.” pleads for the outside world to understand without being playful. “Because I don’t need you to see this and I don’t want you to feel this / But I only have so much spark to offer in all of this darkness and I screamed for you until the day I gave up and lost my voice”.

The Great Depression is a leap of faith for As It Is. It is drastically different from their past work and addresses similar topics as their previous album from a whole new angle. It is arguably the band’s best work to date, and their most daring. As It Is could simply release pop record after pop record. Instead, they are proving themselves some of the most capable musicians of their generation.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and just spilled a tray of tater tots. He is essentially a wobbly toddler that pays rent. Pro Tip: Cats don’t eat floor tots.

Review: Chase Huglin – Will the Sun Ever Come Back

I’ve seen Chase Huglin live twice. The first time, he was opening for Brian Swindle’s (of Have Mercy) solo tour. Then, I saw him play earlier this year when he opened for Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties. When he announced his new full-length, Will the Sun Ever Come Back, I was psyched.

Chase is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has two EPs and (now) two full-lengths. His first album, You Deserve an Island, was released in 2016 and lyrically focuses on themes like the death of his mom and the end of relationships.

You can buy Will the Sun Ever Come Back on Apple Music.

He released two tracks ahead of the album as singles. The first is the opener, “Both of Us”. It’s a fitting first single, as it provides a great sense of the album’s direction and was a solid choice. The next single, however, isn’t my favorite. It’s called “June Bug”. It doesn’t really fit the tone of the album but it’s still a cute song. The track I really liked is called “Heaven Come My Way”. It’s the fourth track on the album and I love the way he transitions from the verse to the chorus.

The tune of Will the Sun Ever Come Back doesn’t change much from his last release. It’s still pretty sad and downcast. He focuses a lot more on the end of relationships in this one, rather than death, which I guess is kind of an improvement? At least he’s doing better with some things.

Something that has changed from the last album to this one is the addition of a full band. It really rounds out the sound and is a welcome change. You Deserve an Island was mainly him and an acoustic guitar. It fit the theme and the direction he aimed for. He’s managed to do the same with this album. It’s great to see what someone can do with minimal instruments but to see him accomplish the same things with such a change in sound is really impressive.

The one thing I’m not  super huge fan of in this album is how sonically continuous it is. It kind of drones on. There’s a fine line between a good and a bad sense of continuity. I could chalk it up to Chase still being kind of new to making music. There’s this idea that you have your entire life to write your first album, and a lot less time to write your second. An artist’s first album is often the best display of their personality and the things that are important to them. I saw this in Chase’s first album, and, while obviously there are stark differences between this album and his last, the two albums are so closely intertwined that Will the Sun Ever Come Back is almost volume two to You Deserve An Island’s volume one.

So this album is really nice. It’s easy to listen to and has lyrics that you could draw meaning from with a little bit of thought. I’ll spin it this year when I want something familiar and low key, and I’ll definitely recommend it to friends who are looking for the same.

3.5/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: AWOLNATION – Here Come the Runts

If you’re anything like me, your interest in AWOLNATION stopped at their hit song “Sail”, never really delving any deeper into their discography. I have searched for years to try and find a better way of organizing what I should be listening to, but I haven’t found the perfect system yet, so things fall through the cracks. That’s what happened between AWOLNATION and I – no hard feelings – just an overwhelming sense of having to listen to anything and everything. I’m happy to say that this is something that will no longer happen. AWOLNATION and I are fast friends because of their latest album, Here Come the Runts.

You can buy Here Come the Runts on iTunes.

I’m always skeptical of listening to a band’s newest album without doing a bit of research, (aka listening to the rest of their discography), but I didn’t have to worry about that with this album. It’s somehow simultaneously what to expect from Aaron Bruno and a complete surprise. It’s jumbled, it’s loud and it works. The first (and title) track is raucous and chaotic, yet doesn’t set the tone for the album. It goes all over the place and is as interesting as it is entertaining.

My favorite song from the album is without a doubt the lead single, “Passion”. Look for it on my summer playlist, folks. It’s got a great energy and it stands out, reaching out to old fans who may have put AWOLNATION on the back burner, as if to say, “Hey guys, we’ve still got it!” It also draws new people (me) in and displays just how talented this band is.

Lead vocalist Aaron Bruno is the only original member left in the band. They’ve had a rocky couple of years in this regard, losing members left and right for all manner of reasons. To me, this should signal the end of a band’s golden era, but it doesn’t seem to mean that for Bruno. This is the band’s best release out of their three albums.

The song “Sail” from Megalithic Symphony is seven years old at this point, and I think it was time for something fresh. I hadn’t really heard too much about their second album, Run. I knew it existed but the buzz around it died so quickly I felt like I never got a chance to focus on it. With Here Come the Runts, Aaron Bruno gives a collection of songs that refuse to be ignored. They stand perfectly fine on their own, but come together in a dynamic way when listened in full.

That being said, the one double-edged sword with this album is its length. I’m sure I’ll confuse everyone when I say that while each song is necessary, each song isn’t totally necessary. Maybe it’s just me falling into our culture’s trend of short attention spans, but 14 tracks feels a bit lengthy on this album. (Personally, I think 11 to 12 would have been the sweet spot.) So, yes, it takes a while to get through, but it’s a rewarding experience once you do. Make sense?

To say that this is a great album is an understatement. In my opinion, AWOLNATION has returned with an offering that hopefully only compounds their success. This has definitely come into my rotation for a while, and I think this could be a great start to a new, unique part of AWOLNATION’s career.

4/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Yellowcard -Yellowcard

yellowcard-2016

Saying goodbye is never an easy task, but knowing that the end is coming makes the blow a bit softer. Such is the case with Yellowcard, the final album by one of the penultimate bands of pop punk. Yellowcard have ended their career with an album that feels like an accumulation of everything they have done up to this point. If there was a way to go out in style, Yellowcard seized the opportunity and ran with it.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

You can pre-order Yellowcard on iTunes.

It’s hard to describe Yellowcard, as each song sounds reminiscent of each album in the band’s career up to this point, finding a sublime balance between Southern Air and Lift a Sail. The songs are poppier, but have the edge of an alternative record. It’s clearly in the vein of the band’s most recent work with hints to earlier material, but each song is uniquely Yellowcard.

“Rest in Peace” is as distinct a Yellowcard song as “Ocean Avenue” ever was, with a bouncing guitar riff and whimsical violin taking the spotlight. Whereas “Got Yours” is much more of a faster song in the vein of more recent All Time Low albums. Being their final album, the band also tackles slower songs, such as “Leave a Light On”, a piano ballad tingling with a haunting guitar line. After 15 years, Yellowcard is an experience that keeps you guessing until the very end where past albums stayed on key and theme.

“What Appears” is a harder riffing rock song that sounds like it should have been on Lift a Sail and features a furious violin melody throughout. “The Hurt is Gone” keeps the drumming at a solid pace while the guitars bounce from short, simple strums and the bass keeps the song full. “Fields & Fences” might be the most fitting finale to a band’s career I’ve ever heard. At seven minutes long, it houses the single softest moment’s of Yellowcard’s career, bursts into a stupendous electric bridge, and fades on the wind of Mackin’s violin.

The biggest detriments to the album are a distinct lack of Sean Mackin’s violin taking center stage with exception to the “Rest in Peace” and “A Place We Set Afire”. Instead, Mackin finds a sweet spot in the rhythm section, allowing the guitarwork of Ryan Mendez and Ryan Key to take the spotlight. Although the drumming for Yellowcard is wonderful, it lacks the flair that Longineu Parsons III brought to past albums. Josh Portman’s bass provides a loving melody to the songwork and boosts the framework of the songs throughout.

Fittingly, the theme of the album is saying goodbye. Each song finds a new way to give the message without sounding contrite or repetitive. Lead track “Rest in Peace” is an overall eulogy to the band and reflects on ending after finding their second wind as Key sings, “It was the best that you could be for me / I think we were lucky just to stay alive / Even when you had only fire to breathe / I know you were only trying to make it right / Change everything I’ve ever known / Try once again to let you go”.

“Fields & Fences” sounds like a eulogy of the band making a such a strong comeback after their hiatus and finding understanding in the scheme of things under the brush of eclectic guitar. “I got used to being the star of the show / But I’ve seen the lights come and go / I heard a song playing brought by the wind / I got myself lost and I found you again”.

“A Place We Set Afire” perhaps contains the most direct thesis for why Yellowcard are calling it quits after so long, as Key sings, “We don’t have to say goodbye / But we can’t get lost in time / I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine / Maybe in another life”.

Yellowcard sounds like an ending. It’s a cap to a band that gave their all with each release and every show. Anyone who enjoyed Yellowcard at any point in their vast career will find a song to love, and anyone who enjoyed the band’s entire discography will love the album. It’s not their best or most cohesive work, but it’s not meant to be. Yellowcard is the sum of everything up to this point, collecting the best bits and experimenting with others.

I always tend to assume that the last song on an album is the last I will hear from a band, and in this instance, it’s a correct assumption. “Fields & Fences” ends on an honest note that sums up the parts of Yellowcard as a band before a 90 second violin solo with a simple sentiment: “I don’t have much to give to you / But I know I love the way you make me feel like I’m at home / And I am not alone”.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and rediscovered Yellowcard after their hiatus. Godspeed, you lovely California kids.

 

Hands Like Houses Stream “New Romantics”

hands-like-houses-new1

Australian rockers Hands Like Houses have released a new track from their upcoming album Dissonants titled “New Romantics”. The song had previously been played during recent live performances and features an alt-rock vibe with a mean bass line. The band had previously stated that Dissonants would release sometime in October via Rise Records, but an official date has yet to be announced.

You can stream “New Romantics” below:

Like what you hear? You can buy the track on iTunes.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Bring Me the Horizon – That’s the Spirit

bring-me-the-horizon-2015

Reinvention is no simple task. It requires patience, talent and a firm belief in who you are and who you want to be. There has been no shortage of metalcore bands over the past few years to distance themselves from an overcrowded scene in an attempt to join the radio rock masses, some more convincing than others. Finally, a successful blueprint for the crossover has been laid.

Maybe it was learning from the mistakes of their predecessors, or maybe it’s the fact that they’re just that much more talented than their peers, but Bring Me the Horizon have completed their metamorphosis in splendid fashion. Their new album, That’s the Spirit, will make you question everything you thought you knew about the band – right before you realize how much sense this makes.

You can buy That's the Spirit on iTunes.

You can buy That’s the Spirit on iTunes.

Bring Me the Horizon’s transformation has been anything but sudden. In fact, the band has been shedding their former selves with each subsequent release, slowly building a rock goliath from unimpressive beginnings. Laughter ceased with the release of 2011’s shockingly progressive There Is a Hell, before the band landed the final blow with 2013’s post-hardcore masterpiece, Sempiternal.

Even as that release forever shifted the dialogue about the band, Bring Me the Horizon were far from finished – or satisfied. Born from the turmoil surrounding vocalist Oli Sykes’ recovery from a drug addiction and hammered home by the band’s self-proclaimed desire to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world, That’s the Spirit indulges itself in mainstream rock propensities and nu metal curiosity. It’s ear candy to the extreme, but it’s also surprisingly smart.

Bring Me the Horizon could have easily chosen someone like David Bendeth to man the boards for such an excursion, but instead decided to keep things in house. Keyboardist Jordan Fish, who played a key role in creating the impressive electronic soundscape found on Sempiternal, worked side by side with Sykes in the creation of their new record. Gone are the brutal breakdowns and guttural screams that were once the band’s calling cards – in are unique electronic samples, showering synthesizers and multi-layered vocals, rich in melody.

Listening to album opener “Doomed” is like hearing the band for the first time. The deep emotional pull found in Sykes’ delivery is still present, but here it comes in forms of restraint, capped by a beautifully dark falsetto as he sings, “I think we’re doomed” during the song’s chorus. This isn’t a generic rip-off – the song sounds like nothing you’ve heard this year, with it’s odd, eerie electronic background. The sinister sonic musings of the band drip from every note, but this time around the packaging is much different.

Lead single “Throne” is a microcosm of the album’s tendencies, relying on a heavy synthesizers and bass and utilizing Sykes’ voice as an exciting new instrument inside the mix. While Minutes to Midnight-era Linkin Park comparisons are almost too easy to make, they’re impossible to ignore. Sykes’ massive chorus of “So you can throw me to the wolves / Tomorrow I will come back, leader of the whole pack / Beat me black and blue / Every wound will shape me, every scar will build my throne” sounds like a moment straight out of Chester Bennington’s playbook.

However, to boil That’s the Spirit down to one influence would be to overlook a vast array of new tricks in the band’s playbook. “Happy Song” immerses itself in post-grunge and alternative rock sounds as Sykes channels his inner Kurt Cobain for the gritty lines of, “If I sing along a little fucking louder / To a happy song, I’ll be alright”. Guitarist Lee Malia digs deep at grimy notes that add to the track’s dark presentation.

The band hits a groove on “What You Need”, flashing pop tendencies with smooth backing vocals and polished guitar riffs. “Follow You” is a beautifully constructed track, complete with programmed drums and exciting samples that create a hazy vibe underneath Sykes’ surprisingly peaceful delivery as he sings, “You could drag me through hell if it meant I could hold your hand”. Meanwhile, “Blasphemy” features a sweet noodling guitar passage before kicking into its final fiery chorus.

It’s hard to poke holes in That’s the Spirit, but if you had to complain, there are moments when a producer likely could have reigned the band in. “Run” feels convoluted with too many moving parts while “Oh No” closes the album with a boring dance beat and cheesy lyrics that don’t fit with the rest of the record.

However, oversight from a Bendeth-like producer is a double-edged sword and likely would have castrated the band’s experimentation and resulted in much more generic output. Seeing as how this is the band’s first DIY journey, it’s easy to overlook a few hiccups when, on the whole, That’s the Spirit is better than almost anything else out there.

What the aforementioned bands failed to realize during their own reinventions is that just because you change your sound doesn’t mean you have to change your identity. This new rendering of Bring Me the Horizon is very much true to the band, regardless of what you hear through the speakers. The same dark undertones course through the record’s veins, but this time, flashes of light break through the cracks. Change is here. And, in this case, it sounds superb.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Hands Like Houses to Release “Dissonants” This Fall

hands-like-houses-new1

Australian rock band Hands Like Houses will be releasing their third full length album, Dissonants, this fall on Rise Records. While official release details are still forthcoming, the band has announced that they will be kicking off their first world tour on October 9 in Australia.

“We are unbelievably excited to announce our very first world tour!” says singer Trenton Woodley. “We’re hitting the roads and skies in support of our brand new album Dissonants this October-December in Australia, the US and UK.”

You can view US tour dates below:

Oct 23 – San Diego, CA – SOMA
Oct 24 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock
Oct 26 – San Antonio, TX – Korova
Oct 27 – Dallas, TX – Trees
Oct 28 – Houston, TX – Walter’s
Oct 30 – Orlando, FL – Backbooth
Oct 31 – Tampa, FL – Epic Problem
Nov 2 – Atlanta, GA – Hell @ Masquerade
Nov 3 – Greensboro, NC – Greene St.
Nov 4 – Richmond, VA – Canal Club
Nov 5 – New York, NY – Marlin Room @ Webster Hall
Nov 6 – Allentown, PA – Crocodile Rock Cafe
Nov 7 – Worcester, MA – Palladium Upstairs
Nov 8 – Howell, NJ – Gamechanger World
Nov 10 – Cleveland, OH – Beachland
Nov 11 – Pontiac, MI – Crofoot @ Pike Room
Nov 12 – Indianapolis, IN – Emerson Theater
Nov 13 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
Nov 14 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
Nov 15 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird
Nov 17 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
Nov 18 – Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
Nov 20 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Nov 21 – Portland, OR – Analog
Nov 23 – Sacramento, CA – Boardwalk
Nov 24 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
Nov 27 – Pomona, CA – Glass House

Are you excited about the new album? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: All Time Low – Future Hearts

alltimelow-Promo-1

There’s a level of excitement that surrounds a new release from All Time Low that most bands will never see. Each of their albums becomes an event for the pop punk community, whether that be for better or worse. Where the issue lies is that a core group of their fans (myself included) can’t stop hoping for the same connection to an album like So Wrong, It’s Right, even as the band matures and grows artistically. Even though they’ve delivered time and time again, writing some of the best songs in the genre in the process, there is still a level of disappointment that follows them from record to record.

Future Hearts is the best record All Time Low have written since So Wrong, It’s Right. It is the culmination of the best elements of their last releases finally put together to create their most concise record in years. It is an album that, like Harry Potter, has aged itself with the fans from throughout their career instead of appeasing the appetites of teenagers just wanting something to sing along to. The sacrifice though, is a lack of power songs that will forever define them the way that “Dear Maria, Count Me In” or the best songs from Nothing Personal did.

Future Hearts sounds like a sister album to Dirty Work, or rather it’s what Dirty Work should have been. The songs lean to the edge of alternative rock and hone on anthemic choruses and radio-ready pop warfare. The sophistication of the writing coupled with the production make it sound much more mature than the album probably deserves.

This is also the ATL with the least amount of New Found Glory-esque popping guitar melodies, opting instead for melody driven by vocals backed with rushing guitars and heavy percussion(“Kids In the Dark”), which at times hampers the sound. It’s a testament to each members’ musicianship; from focusing so heavily on vocals, each instrument still pushes through brightly.

Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth play some heavy guitar parts that shifts from raging power chords to melodic acoustic based ballads (“Kicking and Screaming”, “Cinderblock Garden”). Zack Merrick’s bass bolsters the guitars heavily, keeping them from feeling flat at times and sharking just beneath the surface. Rian Dawson’s percussion is arguably the second most relied on instrument after Gaskarth’s vocals. The drums are powerful, heavy and moving.

Gaskarth’s vocals are standard fare at this point; he’s an amazing singer with remarkable range. He makes full use of it throughout the record, and provides small background snippets during songs just before launching into the chorus. Gang vocals are dropped generously throughout the record. However, for relying on Gaskarth’s vocals so heavily, he sounds slightly muted and uninspired compared to what we know he’s capable of. Still, he’s wickedly impressive. More impressive though are how well he melds with the guest vocalists Mark Hoppus and Joel Madden.

One of the catch twenty-twos of the album is the lyricism. There are clichés aplenty to hamper any growth thematically, as it’s impossible to count how many “in the dark” phrases are splayed throughout. It pays off as it attempts to slant a ‘grown up’ vibe to themes of heartbreak and drunken mistakes, as well as reflecting on youth as a disjointed and possibly even broken concept of freedom. On the opener, “Satellite”, Gaskarth sings, “Wishing on a star that’s just a satellite / Driving in a car with broken tail-lights / Growing up with eyes glued shut”.

However, the legendarily catchy lyricism is alive and well over all, such as during “Tidal Waves” as Alex sings serenely, “I earned my place with the tidal waves / I can’t escape this feeling that something ain’t right / I called my name as I crashed the gates / Still I can’t escape this feeling that something ain’t right / Why don’t you think before you speak? / Cause you don’t know me at all”.

Future Hearts isn’t perfect, but it’s the reason why we wait so anxiously for each new album from All Time Low. They are so far and above where they should be as musicians for a band that seemed to fill the party-punk void left after Blink-182 disappeared. It’s easy to write them off as just another pop-punk band, but that would undercut the ever growing talent and patches to older efforts.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has seen All Time Low there at least four times. You know, like a stalker or lonely mountain goat.