All Time Low – Tell Me I’m Alive (Album Review)
All Time Low – Tell Me I’m Alive
Released: March 17th, 2023
Alex Gaskarth | Guitar & Vocals
Jack Barakat | Guitar & Backing Vocals
Zack Merrick | Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals
Rian Dawson | Drums
All Time Low online:
I’ve caught American Pop-punk stalwarts All Time Low live once or twice over the years, the most recent being the Good Things Festival back in 2018. The band has proved on all occasions to be a stellar live act, so I was keen to preview their ninth outing, Tell Me I’m Alive.
I’ll give them one thing from the outset – these pop-punkers know how to write songs, finding their way confidently around polished hooks, sleek vocal harmonies, and produced-to-an-inch-of-their-life instrumentals. Some might argue that’s not a bad thing, however, the one thing I noticed missing from these thirteen tracks is the more ‘punk’ element of the genre – as in, with maybe a few exceptions, nothing here takes a risk or puts the foot on the gas a bit.
This results in an album almost seemingly produced to give the music directors of Rock Radio something new to add to their playlist (more for the American stations – not enough Barnesy for the Triple M’s down here.)
The whole pace of the album bops along at a great rhythm, however. The Big Rock Hooks™ are aplenty on this album, with opening tracks ‘Tell Me I’m Alive’ and ‘Modern Love’ setting the tone for the kind of sing-along choruses that dot the rest of the album. The lyrics on the latter create that ‘pop’ pattern for later tracks, with topics mostly centred around love and relationships that tread the waters of cheesiness, occasionally diving in headfirst. (Stacey please I’m suffocating/choking on infatuation.)
Frontman Alex Gaskarth is a heck of a good singer, though, with ‘Are You There’ offering some great pop harmonies, while ‘Sleepwalking’ is a piece of highly polished pop that wouldn’t sound out of place on a more ‘Top 40’ playlist. Again, however, there’s nothing risky here, which might please more pop purists but leaves those wanting something to slam-dance to hitting the ‘next track’ button.
‘English Blood, American Heartache’ is a little more on the rocky/’something to mosh to’ side with its chorus and comes with some nice roomy drums. The guitar octave chords that define the pop-punk genre. It’s probably my standout track of the album but it finishes as quickly as it begins, retreating back to ‘pop’ territory on ‘The Sound Of Letting Go’ which while still a bit heavy, is again produced to the hilt, but not as much as ‘New Religion,’ a song so commercially polished that I’m surprised it doesn’t just wheel out Ed Sheeran for a cameo and be done with it.
‘Kill Ur Vibe’ comes straight from 2007 with its spelling but presents one of the rockier moments on the album, along with ‘Other Side,’ both rolling the album along onto its closing track, predictably a slower ballad, ‘Lost Along the Way.’ Although we do get one last ‘rocky’ chorus, the album still leaves you wondering whom it was made for – the fans or the radio (or algorithm since it is 2023.)
The edge that makes a lot of Pop Punk worth listening to is lacking a bit on Tell Me I’m Alive, however, I think in a live setting All Time Low might give some of these tunes a rawer sound that they deserve to bring some excitement to them.
All Time Low – Tell Me I’m Alive tracklisting
1. Tell Me I’m Alive
2. Modern Love
3. Are You There
5. Calm Down
6. English Blood, American Heartache
7. The Sound Of Letting Go
8. New Religion
9. The Way You Miss Me
10. I’d Be Fine If I Never Saw You Again
11. Kill Ur Vibe
12. Other Side
13. Lost Along The Way
Tell Me I’m Alive is Out March 17th via Fuelled By Ramen. Pre-Order here
Review By – Simon Valentine @SimonValentineAU
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