Music Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine

Baltimore quartet All Time Low are back bigger, better and even more brotherly than ever before, on reminiscent new record Wake Up, Sunshine. Gearing up to releasing their eighth studio album in their seventeen year long career has been no easy feat, as the past year has come with all time highs and all time lows for the fab pop-punk four piece. From being burnt out at the end of 2017’s sonically ambitious Last Young Renegade record cycle, which resulted in a break for the band to hit the refresh button, to celebrating the tenth anniversary of their career defining album Nothing Personal, it seems such events have been culminating to bandmates Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Zack Merrick and Rian Dawson dropping Wake Up, Sunshine, a bright and beaming body of work that truly embodies the lyrical wisdom and sonic adventurousness of All Time Low in 2020. 

Wake Up, Sunshine starts with Some Kind Of Disaster, a vocally anthemic and lyrically nostalgic opening number. Dawson’s pulsating drums, Merrick’s whirring bass, Barakat’s clean guitars and Gaskarth’s outer self-critic comes out to confess his sins, as the frontman sings “I’m a liar, I’m a cynic/ I’m a sinner, I’m a saint/ I’m a loser, I’m a critic / I’m the ghost of my mistakes”. Some Kind Of Disaster is the first single from the full-length and the band are back to being the best version of themselves. Sleeping In is a pure pop-punk track through and through. Its uptempo, relaxed rhythmic verses and mammoth mosh pit chorus create two conflicting sections of the song, yet they seamlessly come together to curate yet another classic from the catalogue of ATL.

Meanwhile away from the moshing of Sleeping In, Getaway Green’s vibe is considerably more mellow. Getting it’s live debut at Slam Dunk Festival last year, Getaway Green pays homage to its festival ready roots, as hazy summer days spent living as a free spirit is the focal point of this one. Moving forwards is the frantic Melancholy Kaleidoscope, a tale of two halves both with its sound and songwriting. The tempo charges at full speed ahead, a concept conjured up by producer Zakk Cervini who worked previously with Gaskarth on his trash pop project Simple Creatures alongside Mark Hoppus. The tempo counteracts the moody songwriting by Alex Gaskarth, whose lyrics act as a personal pep-talk to himself and the listeners of Melancholy Kaleidoscope, for that matter.

The band have teased fans with a flavour of what’s to come on Wake Up, Sunshine, including the totally unique time signature in Trouble Is and the title-track Wake Up, Sunshine, an awakening tune that teaches us all about self acceptance. However, it’s the latter half of the sixteen tracks that delve into the depths of All Time Low’s nostalgia. Firstly, Monsters marks the band’s foray into the hip-hop realm, all whilst obtaining an alternative pop sound represented by distorted guitars and striking bass lines. “I’m addicted to the way you hurt, the way you contradict me / I swear everything look worse at night, I think I’m overthinking / I don’t care who I might hurt along the way, I’m fuckin’ sinking / Into every word, I don’t care if you’re lyin’ when I’m drinking,” raps collaborator blackbear, who brings guitarist Jack Barakat’s dark and edgy songwriting to the fore, whose side project, WhoHurtYou, compelled him to stamp his writing DNA on this one. The trend of featured artists continues after a brief interlude from Pretty Venom, an instrumental slice of acoustic bliss as Favourite Place follows hot on Monster’s heels. Guest vocals from pop-rock getup The Band CAMINO, whose collaboration with All Time Low on Favourite Place proves to be much more Top 40 pop leaning than any ties to rock music the band share.

Elsewhere on the more lyrically mainstream second half of Wake Up, Sunshine, as opposed to the more instrumentally pop-punk first half of the record, comes Safe and it’s a song that does exactly what it says in its title. A cosy, comforting, somber festival anthem, Safe is a callback to those classic ATL songs from Nothing Personal to Dirty Work. Next up is the two-parter January Gloom (Seasons pt. 1) and Summer Daze (Seasons pt. 2), which are polar opposites thematically. January Gloom is followed by Clumsy, a mature track that is a timeless masterclass in everything All Time Low do best, which sits alongside the big singalong style ballad of Glitter & Crimson before being joined by its sister song Summer Daze. Whilst January Gloom represents the blues we all feel whilst staring at the bleak mid winter sky, it’s Summer Daze that’s the saviour of this seasonal depression, with the song’s radiant appeal acting as the perfect spirit lifter.

Wake Up, Sunshine winds down with closer Basement Noise, a heart rendering sentimental hark back to the humble beginnings of the band seventeen years down the line. An ode to old times, from performing Blink-182 covers in drummer Dawson’s parent’s basement, to now recording an original track in a studio space in Nashville that tells such a tale, it seems All Time Low have opened up their Pensieve of personal memories on Basement Noise, and Wake Up, Sunshine for that matter.

Banishing the panda costumes and burning renegade jerseys alike, Wake Up, Sunshine sees All Time Low look back briefly to their adolescent selves living out their teenage dream, before welcoming a wholesome, newfound sense of belonging in the here and now. It’s this refreshed and rediscovered attitude that has added to the glistening, youthful glow of one of the band’s best record in recent years.

9.5/10

Standout Tracks: Some Kind Of Disaster, Sleeping In, Getaway Green, Trouble Is, Wake Up, Sunshine, Monsters, Basement Noise

For Fans Of: Neck Deep, State Champs, You Me At Six

Written by: Katie Conway-Flood

Katie Conway-Flood
Katie Conway-Flood is a music journalist, music publicist and general band enthusiast. For several years, since graduating university with a first class degree in music business, Katie has written single, album and live reviews, and regularly contributed to news stories and feature pieces for a plethora of online music publications. Katie is otherwise a pop-punk, pop-rock listener and ethical vegan.