Review: Last Young Renegade

All Time Low are a four piece pop rock band from Baltimore, who seem to have been around on the scene forever, but in reality formed back in 2003.  Their mainstream, worldwide success begun with the release of single Weightless in 2009, and from then on the band’s popularity has skyrocketed.  They’ve played festivals such as Vans Warped Tour and Reading & Leeds multiple times, as well as supporting bands like Fall Out Boy and A Day To Remember on their own tours.  And now, the band have released their seventh full length record, Last Young Renegade.

Hype for the record began to build with the release of its first single, Dirty Laundry – you can watch the video for the track here:

The release of this single signalled a shift in style from the band.  Music by All Time Low has always had pop influences, but Dirty Laundry was different: it features more electronically distorted guitars, autotuned vocals and programmed drums, until the final chorus kicks in towards the end of the track.  Similar effects also featured in Last Young Renegade‘s other singles, Life Of The Party and Nice2KnoU.

Lyrically, this album is the most personal All Time Low have ever put out.  Explaining the influences behind Last Young Renegade in a Facebook post, the band wrote:

Last Young Renegade is a … collection of songs written from the perspective of the other side of the mirror. In writing this record, I delved into all of the different versions of me that other people might have met over the years, through the ups and downs, in the public eye and behind closed doors.
I gave those other sides of me a persona, and a name, and The Last Young Renegade was born. It became a symbol for those characters and allowed me to comfortably write about some things that I’m not as comfortable talking about openly. This is a very personal record, our favorite that we’ve written.

So, with all the hard work that seems to have gone into the record, I was expecting big things when I sat down to listen to Last Young Renegade, but honestly, I was disappointed.  There’s nothing terrible about this record, don’t get me wrong, but there’s also little in the way of exciting new sounds within the album’s 10 tracks.  The production is so perfect and squeaky clean that it makes the record feel soulless, and much less charming than All Time Low’s previous records.  Every chorus seems to follow the same template – they feature catchy repetitive vocals, crashing drums, synth details and layered backing vocals, which get old very quickly.

There seems to be little to distinguish All Time Low from the pop bands they inspired, such as Five Seconds Of Summer, any more.  I’m sure that the singles from Last Young Renegade will perform fairly well commercially, with a decent amount of airplay, and the record itself may also perform well in the charts.  But is it likely to top their highest charting album, 2011’s foray into pop, Dirty Work?  I’m not so sure.   I reckon the singles are the album’s best offerings, which makes sense from a commercial point of view, but my hopes were raised by Dirty Laundry and Life Of The Party, and then scuppered by the album tracks.

All Time Low is a band that formed straight out of high school, and now its members are fully grown adults – maybe it’s time for them to move on?  Last Young Renegade is simply a pop album to me: nothing exciting, experimental or inventive in sight, and an entirely forgettable listening experience.

Highlights: Nice2KnoU, Life Of The Party, Nightmares

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