March 30, 2020 All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine (Album Review)
“How do you sit still when your head’s on fire?” Not sure that we have a good answer for that, but certainly some fuel for excitement is about to arrive in the form of All Time Low’s latest, Wake Up, Sunshine. Fueled By Ramen delivers the melodies on Friday, April 3rd, 2020.
Formed in Towson, Maryland, in 2003, the much beloved All Time Low made their full-length debut in 2005 with The Party Scene, and the rest has been a steadily-evolving collection of Billboard-charting albums, popular singles, and sold-out headliners. Buoyed by additional albums such as 2007’s So Wrong, It’s Right, 2011’s Dirty Work, and 2017’s Last Young Renegade, the band have toured the globe with Pop-Punk heavy-hitters such as Green Day, Good Charlotte, and Fall Out Boy, to name but a few.
Seasoned veterans of their scene, the band—Vocalist/Guitarist Alex Gaskarth, Guitarist Jack Barakat, Bassist Zack Merrick, Drummer Rian Dawson—are preparing to unleash their eighth full-length studio offering, Wake Up, Sunshine. Produced by Zakk Cervini (Good Charlotte, YUNGBLUD), and with collaborations from Dan Swank (Maggie Schneider, Katie Joy) and Phil Gornell (Deaf Havana, Hot Milk), the 15-song collection seems All Time Low trying to find a place to finally be comfortable in their own skin. An endless mental battle for many, the title and the tracks come together to form a mantra, one that invites fans to embrace their individuality, step out from under the gray clouds, and find their personal nirvana.
They open Wake Up, Sunshine with “Some Kind of Disaster” and the confession that Gaskarth is both a “liar and a cynic,” but also, thankfully, a saint. Proud to be a walking contradiction, he offers the insightful admission that “you have to hurt sometimes to learn to heal.” Upbeat sonics contrast the track’s deeper, more self-reflective and candid lyrics, all as we get our very first glimpse at an evolved and matured All Time Low.
Catchy, fast-paced “Sleeping In” utilizes a sexy pick-up line in a witty way that’s infectiously memorable, much like the music of Britney (who they name-check in the song). Then, they get even more bubblegum on the summery, windows down “Getaway Green.” That all turns upside down, however, as they drive into the eerily Green Day-esque “Melancholy Kaleidoscope,” melody and melancholia all in one lovely little package that feels immediately familiar and comforting.
Continuing to flash their influences for the hungry gawkers, “Trouble Is” sports a Good Charlotte influence that bops and rolls straight into the titular “Wake Up, Sunshine.” Delving into some gritty Rock-n-Roll guitars that meander across the landscape, here the band celebrates that, despite the living hell of life, someone can love you for exactly who you are. Yes, it is possible to find someone who appreciates you for you! (And that’s the story, morning glory.)
“Monster” goes deep into a darker groove, crafting an ominous earworm that features guest artist blackbear. Meanwhile, at three minutes, the deadly sweet acoustic “Pretty Venom” is much more than a traditional interlude. A poisonous little palate cleanser of carefully plucked strings and the most delicious emo melancholia, it bridges the gap between “Monster” and “Favorite Place.” A melodic rocker that features The Band CAMINO, the latter is an upbeat toe-tapper full of lush harmonies.
Gaskarth’s vocals continue to soar to new heights on “Safe,” and then lead his bandmates into the funky “January Gloom (Seasons pt. 1).” Next, embracing their inner Icarus, the radio-ready “Clumsy” is the story of a love that flew too close to the sun and fell apart. All this before Dawson gets his chance to truly shine on the percussion of the (mostly) acoustic “Glitter & Crimson.”
In the end, they are especially reflective on “Summer Daze (Seasons pt. 2)”, a sultry stomp through the sands of time, before they reach the album’s closer, “Basement Noise.” Looking back at being “stupid boys,” the nostalgic track is a sweet note to end on, an autobiographical tale of a group of boys who gave it all for their music—and it all started in a Maryland basement. While that is certainly their past, All Time Low continue to travel forward from their humble beginnings as they conclude an album that is a gentle blend of Melodic Rock and Pop-Punk, one that is easily-digestible but also candid.
Sure, there are bubblegum fluff tracks (“Getaway Green,” “Trouble Is”), songs heavily reminiscent of Green Day (“Melancholy Kaleidoscope,” “Wake Up, Sunshine”), and pretty much everything in between, but Wake Up, Sunshine keeps its tracklist flowing, utilizing its odd little quirks to expand its sound profile. Die-hards, no doubt, will be happy with the 15-song tracklist, though for the casual All Time Low fan this might seem a bit daunting. Either way, even if you simply pick and choose, there’s plenty of excellent material on the disc to uplift and inspire. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Wake Up, Sunshine 4 of 5 stars.