Reviewed by Mark Plummer
After moving on from Hopeless Records for their last release, Dirty Work, it’s been a quick return to the label that effectively “made” them for their fifth studio album, Don’t Panic. This return to an independent label is more than evident in the sound and style that All Time Low have made use of, this not only feels familiar, but also very much welcome. Whilst the first glimpses seemed to give the idea that this is nothing new and takes the best from both So Wrong, It’s Right and Nothing Personal, it is anything but and makes this is an exciting release to say the least, dousing any criticisms the band seems to have accumulated over the last few years.
Whilst it’s critical to make the comparisons to its predecessors, it’s even more astute to realize that there is a lot of new ground covered on Don’t Panic. WhilstAll Time Low have had a quick dabble into the music that kick-started their career, and this is most evident in the first few songs that were released before the album dropped, the majority of the work showcases progression and growth from where they started. There is an overwhelming feeling of maturity in the way that Don’t Panic has been delivered, whilst it carries all the tell tale signs of a band that has been influenced by the likes of New Found Glory and Yellowcard(it’s almost eerie just how well Thanks To You would fit on Catalyst when it breaks down for the interlude before coming back around), this is still an All Time Low record in every sense.
Whilst there is a fair bit of new material that hasn’t been recycled, All Time Low have still managed to retain some of what got them to this position with songs like For Baltimore, Somewhere in Neverland and opener, The Reckless and the Brave. These three are the most reminiscent and perfectly placed throughout to ease the listener into Don’t Panic. This then, is a coming of age record and it strikes all the right notes.
Some of the lovely little guitar licks feel a little lost on tracks like If These Sheets Were States, whilst being a brilliantly inventive song with a great opening line (“This bed’s an island made of feather down and I’m stuck here alone. With little else but memories of you on memory foam”), it still feels like it has been too compressed and takes away from some of the great guitar work. On the upside, there is a lot of darker, more rock than pop-punk moments in the majority of the songs, tracks like To Live and Let Go, Outlines and So Long, and Thanks for All the Booze really stretch this group to a place that many might not have envisioned given their usually uplifting nature. The latter, and closing track, even starts to drop into Madina Lake territory with it’s fast paced and more technical drum and guitar tracks that implore a much grittier style.
The real success of Don’t Panic lies in not only how it’s been produced and written, but also how effortless it flows. With each song not long over three minutes in length, it glides from track to track with ease and doesn’t run the risk of getting lost on a slower song and having to gain ground again. That being said, it is a little disappointing not to find a slower track to rival that of Remembering Sunday, but to have an album of this quality from All Time Low again, it’s easy to move on past it.
Is it a fair comment to say that this is the best release from this Baltimore four-piece? It’s hard to say, what is for sure is just how many positive steps forward have been taken, this is All Time Low at their best once again.