There comes a time when your long-time favourite band puts out a record that puts you in an existential crisis over the fluidity in between music genres lately. That’s what All Time Low have done with their latest release Last Young Renegade.
Now, if you were of those dissing on the infamous Dirty Work-era back in 2011 (which I adored in all its catchiness and punchy choruses) I can only imagine the even bigger dismay you’re feeling with this new record.
Last Young Renegade is not an easy listen for guitar heavy pop-punk trained ears as it’s the most experimental stuff All Time Low have ever released. With the fitting vibes for those long adventures in summer sunset town, the title track kicks off in a refreshed yet familiar style. The seemingly melancholic “Dirty Laundry” is the perfect partner in this which also gave us the first glimpse of the new direction that climaxes into a sick guitar solo by the end.
“One last time for old time’s sake/One more bend before we break”– along with the nostalgic music video released to it, it almost feels like “Nice2KnoU” is a heads-up to something that’s about to be gone…but we don’t want to think about that, do we? It is also the only track completely touching the band’s roots.
The rest of the album is a fusion of dark synth pop, a tiny modern resemblance of neon pop (Andrew Goldstein of The Friday Night Boys worked as songwriter on several tracks, it turns out) and that EDM sound everyone from Justin Bieber to The Chainsmokers, and even Halsey on her new record, uses lately – frankly, it’s plain boring by now, and it really is the one thing I cannot digest. “Life of the Party” is that kind of shocker. You have to stop and re-evaluate for a moment but once you get over it and add the anxiety of the lyrics, it all works out in a strange way. On the contrary, “Drugs&Candy” and “Dark Side of Your Room” turns these new influences less alien. Fingers crossed the latter will be added to future set-lists.
Bringing in Tegan and Sara for “Ground Control” was a true genius. It’s not only an unexpected collaboration but the most touching song by miles. It also partially sees out the record and sets the mood before the grand finale of “Afterglow” – a song that’s verses could easily be mistaken to Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, with a little bit of tropical vibes on the instruments and a huge folky chorus to finish off with. The interesting part in this double closure is the contrast of letting go of the past on one side vs. trying to hold onto a present moment on the other. There is a kind of beauty in its sadness that draws me in.
Last Young Renegade is not the instantly lovable All Time Low record as a whole and personally, I really don’t know where to put this one for now. However, after the tenth listen, there definitely are things to find worthy of appreciation. Just give it some time to grow on you, and don’t forget that being open for new music makes life more interesting.