All Time Low – Nothing Personal

nothingpersonalArtist: All Time Low
Album: Nothing Personal
Genre: Pop Punk/Rock
Label: Hopeless

There’s almost nothing as frightening for an up and coming band or their fans than the Sophomore release. It’s a hurdle that truly divides those with staying power and those who only had one good record in them. All Time Low exploded in 2008 with countless sold out shows, blazing singles, and an ever growing fan base who frantically purchased the group’s first label release, So Wrong, It’s Right. By blending their “take home to mom” good looks and their Blink 182 like stage banter, the group quickly became the force to reckon with in the pop punk scene and now, with the Tuesday release of Nothing Personal, the band looks to only climb higher in popularity.

Starting things off with the soundtrack to teenage life, “Weightless,” All Time Low quickly shows their growth in both sound and writing. Alex Gaskarth’s voice radiates as if made to be the voice of a new generation. Where Blink 182 defined the lives of those of use born from 1984-89, ATL’s quick wit, rhyme scheme, and honesty rattles in the bones of everyone from 15-24 yr. old. and probably farther than we can even begin to express. The band then keeps things up with two sex and relationship based tracks. “Break Your Little Heart” comes with the album’s title and some of the catchiest lines I’ve heard all year. Likewise, “Damned If I Do You [Damned If I Don’t],” which is sure to win over radio and scene fans alike, shows the band progressing in song structure and writing. There’s a great story to be heard, but it doesn’t come with the cost of catchy songwriting which is truly the key to staying relevant in this genre.

As the record progresses, we find that Nothing Personal is anything, but a series of stories from the minds of Gaskarth and crew that are put into songs that all really seem to have legs made for long haul replay value. “Lost In Stereo,” the first to truly show excessive great production value has the band creating a sound that seems destined for arenas where “Walls” seems more made for the mixtape crew. It’s a little love song about not being okay with the “friend zone.” Seriously, give it a month and check any mix cd/playlist you can, it will be there.

Outside of the already mentioned tracks, the deeper you dive into the record, the more great, scene anthemic songs. “Hello Brooklyn,” for instance, is sure to be blaring at every show for the rest of the band’s career. In addition to this, “A Party Song,” which may be about one night stands and the much feared “walk of shame” uses solid power chords and quick wit [“I’ll make you come, just to watch you leave” – yes I know, that’s the wrong spelling, but I’m keeping it a bit clean] to create a song that you just want to rock out to, full force.

The whole record isn’t about anthem and choruses that ring for days though, there are two strong, softer tracks. “Too Much” feels a lot like a boy band era love song, but surprisingly works really well. It’s easier to sing the rocking numbers over the softer ones and Gaskarth does both flawlessly. In addition, the closer, “Therapy,” whose guitar parts is reminiscent of Third Eye Blind, tugs at the heart strings quite strongly.

It’s not all great work however, as both “Stella” and “Sick Little Games,” which unfortunately follow one after another, both fall a bit flat. They’re not terrible songs by any means, but the simplicity of it gets to you very, very fast.

Though old school fans will claim this is the third full length, most of us will forever consider Nothing Personal as an album that overcame the feared “Sophomore slump.” All Time Low doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, but they do expand their already impressive horizons. They’ve grown incredibly in terms of songwriting and the nearly every track is sure to directly connect with listeners. The band’s ability to take what are basically short stories and create extremely catchy song is something to never underestimate. Nothing Personal is easily the soundtrack to Summer 2009 and yet another impressive chapter in the quickly developing legacy of All Time Low.

Score: 9/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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