Baltimore pop-punk quartet All Time Low has been through a lot since their creation in 2003. Their first single on Hopeless Records, “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” was poised to bring them up to the prime time punk scene, where was already being dominated by bands like Fall Out Boy and ATL’s inspiration, blink-182. It didn’t break them out, but that did give them some word-of-mouth of the band. In 2007, they participated in the MTV2 Dew Circuit Breakout, a contest in which showcased new up and coming acts that deserved some attention. Sadly, they didn’t win that either, and only placed in the Top 6 (out of 12).
However, they bounced back with some authority, delivering their second album “So Wrong, It’s Right,” which in part of their two big singles “Dear Maria, Count Me In” and “Poppin’ Champagne,” gave them some much needed play on TRL (when MTV still had music). Later, Alternative Press would name them Band of the Year 2008. And through this entire calamity, they would still have time to tour with such acts like Third Eye Blind, Cobra Starship, and The Matches.
Now, after their critically acclaimed Nothing Personal (which in my opinion is the best album out of their catalog), ATL comes back with Dirty Work. The album starts out very strong; “Do You Want Me (Dead)?” sounds like a happy, almost poppy F-you to some ex who apparently cannot make up her mind. Speaking of poppy, the following song “I Feel Like Dancin’” is an straight pop song, with some pretty some pretty amusing lyrics, like “Everybody’s gettin kinda crunk / I think some dude just grabbed my junk / Now I know how Ke$ha must be feelin.’”
However, the biggest problem with Dirty Work isn’t the larger influence of pop over punk, but how memorable this album is, or how it is not. Sadly, after a couple more listening, the two songs listed above were the only two songs that I can remember without having to listen to the full album. I’m not saying that the album is bad, not at all. Other songs on the disc, including “Just The Way I’m Not” and “A Daydream Away” both highlights the diversity of ATL, but those two and the other 11 songs on the LP just never stick to anything.
And, as you might’ve noticed, All Time Low is sounding more like the pop styles of Fall Out Boy, then punk like Blink-182. I understand the change; now that Fall Out Boy is no more, there’s no band to fill that huge radio void. I do hope for ATL’s sake, that this move helps them break out into the radio scene, but I have a gut feeling that it won’t.
If All Time Low was Blink-182, then Dirty Work would be Blink’s self titled release: just ok, and almost kind of a letdown. All Time Low have all of the tools to make it big in the industry that is now lacking pop-punk talent, they just need a giant push. However, I don’t believe that the material off of Dirty Work will get them there, or at least not quickly.
Final Grade: C
Check out the link below for All Time Low’s new single, “I Feel Like Dancin’” below: