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All Time Low pleases critics and fans with “Don’t Panic”

4 out of 5

 

When All Time Low first signed to Hopeless Records in 2006, the band members were still seniors in high school. Over the past six years, a lot has happened in the careers of the Baltimore-based band, including a switch to major label Interscope, through which the band released “Dirty Work” in 2010. All Time Low left Interscope earlier this year to return to Hopeless Records to release its fifth full-length album, “Don’t Panic.”

Although “Don’t Panic” officially dropped on Oct. 9, Hopeless uploaded the CD in its entirety to YouTube a week before the scheduled release date. The album received favorable reviews from Alternative Press, which compared “Don’t Panic” to an All Time Low greatest-hits CD because it “touches on every All Time Low elements to date.” Also, almost all of the songs on the album have the potential to become singles, a change from some of All Time Low’s previous albums, which boasted tracks that were more like filler than actual songs.

After leaving Interscope in May, All Time Low released “The Reckless and the Brave,” which could be downloaded for free off of the band’s website. The biographical song about the band’s humble start received positive feedback from fans. With the band’s return to Hopeless Records also came a return to its roots. “For Baltimore,” an ode to the band’s hometown, was released over the summer. The two songs went over well with an audience of mostly teenage girls, who cried and sang along when All Time Low visited Looney Toons Records in West Babylon, N.Y., for a short and intimate acoustic performance promoting the new release.

“Somewhere in Neverland,” the third single leaked from the album, is a reference to lost-boy Peter Pan.  As the majority of All Time Low’s fan base graduate high school and college and leave behind their childhood years, they can relate to the song’s message of not wanting to grow up.  The catchy melodies all too familiar to All Time Low fans are especially present in this song.

While “Dirty Work” was criticized by fans for being overly produced, this album has a much more raw feel, especially in “For Baltimore.” “Backseat Serenade,” a standout track on the album, boasts strong harmonies. “Outlines,” which features Jason Venga, also stands out in that it sounds different from the album’s other tracks while retaining a distinctly All Time Low sound. Fans of frontman Alex Gaskarth’s writing style in the band’s early years will be pleased with songs such as “Thanks to You” and “If These Sheets Were States,” which share a similar lyrical style with fan favorites such as “Jasey Rae.”

Without a doubt, All Time Low fans who had become increasingly disappointed in All Time Low’s overly produced, made-for-radio content will be pleased with “Don’t Panic.” The album demonstrates growth for the band musically, but it also shows a return to All Time Low’s roots as a really solid pop punk band.

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