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The Critics Corner: Albums
Dierks Bentley
All Time Low- Nothing Personal
Alt-rockers get catchy with their sophomore effort
Name: "Nothing Personal"
Label: Hopeless/Sub-City
Release Date: July 7, 2009
My rating: 4.3 out of 5

Review written by: Carly Veneracion

Starting out as a small garage band in Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, the quartet known as All Time Low had never in their wildest dreams thought that anything like this would happen to them; they’ve met their teenage heroes Blink 182, collaborated with Mark Hoppus, performed on Warped Tour with Tom DeLonge, and have recently gone on a whirlwind tour with pop-punk band Fall Out Boy. Although they have been on tour after tour since Warped 2008, they’ve recently taken much deserved some time off to record the follow up to their 2007’s full-length So Wrong, It’s Right, coming up with the one and only Nothing Personal.

The album opens with “Weightless,” a perfect summer song in its own right as front man Alex Gaskarth sings about wanting to escape the world he has always known and entering a new one full of surprises and adventures. His lyrics are very age appropriate and relatable, making it a sure fan favorite, and, of course, destined for success.  All Time Low couples the lyrics with catchy guitar riffs and an even better chorus to which a sing-a-long could be lead. But that’s just the beginning of the pop-punk dance tunes to follow.

Aggressive and straight to the point, “Break Your Little Heart” has catchy lyrics and an attractive beat that immediately makes you want to clap along, much like the single “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t).” This song is definitely one of the better tracks on the album, and with a hook like “Oh oh oh, how was I supposed to know?” how can you disagree?  Of course, the popularity of this song can also be magnified by the fact that it’s the third installment of the “Coffee Shop Soundtrack” story.

“Lost in Stereo” continues with the pop-punk feel of the album, channeling teenage angst through the story of not being noticed by the love interest that, “just like cellophane,” sees right through you. The emotions that play throughout the song are clearly heard and felt by the listener, proven even more by riveting drum beats, ear-catching guitar riffs, and impressive vocals that fans have come to expect. It surely is a song that gets stuck in your head after a while. Coming up next is my personal favorite song off the album, “Stella.” Much like their previous full-length, another play on words has been done as he does not actually sing about a girl named Stella but rather something else by same name of Stella Arquois. (I’ll let you figure that one it.) It’s certainly a quirky and laughable song with its jumpy beats and amusing lyrics.

Midway through the album, a slower song has finally showed itself: “Sick Little Games.” The slow rhythm and the way Gaskarth croons the lyrics make for a very touching song. It is definitely one of those tracks that you should pay close attention to. The next song “Hello, Brooklyn” is definite a contrast to “Sick Little Games” both in meaning and in tempo; the former is about insecurity where as fast paced “Hello, Brooklyn” talks about having fun at “a party at the end of the world.” The random cities, along with the borough of Brooklyn and the country of Mexico, mentioned in the end don’t seem to have a point in the song, but it does still follow with the danceable beat.

“Walls” is one of the softer songs on the album. It isn’t as slow as “Too Much” and it isn’t as fast as “Lost in Stereo,” yet it still maintains its pop-punk image. It’s a love song in its own way, with lyrics like, “I wanna feel so in love with you and no one else…” Following “Walls” is a song that very much surprised me upon first listen; “Too Much” has to be my least favorite song by All Time Low as it certainly is a drastic change from anything they have ever recorded. One of my first thoughts was “Oh, this sounds nothing like Alex!” It sounds like a boy band pop song, reminiscent of a pop-punk synthesized version of the Backstreet Boys. And like its title, it really just is too much. But nevertheless, it does grow on you and you learn to sing  along with it.

A confrontational song with the best intentions, “Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal,” as well as “A Party Song (The Walk of Shame),” reverts to what most of the album, and All Time Low’s overall sound, is: pop-punk music with drum beats that makes you want to dance along.  With the usage of double entendres in “A Party Song” such as “I make you come just to watch you leave,” All Time Low have stayed true to their roots in having some fun, albeit dirty fun, when it comes right down to it.

And then we have “Therapy,” the song that closes Nothing Personal. While it ends the album on a sad note, it has undeniably shown the overall growth, maturity and progress that All Time Low has made through the years.

Keep an open mind while listening to this album because although All Time Low have stayed true to their roots, they have also tried out a variety styles which can be considered surprising to some. It’s definitely a different sound as Put Up or Shut Up, but it shows growth and is certainly deemed as worth listening to.

Armed with an array of producers as they recorded their new full-length, I can safely say that we can thank Matt Squire, Butch Walker, David Bendeth, and S*A*M & Sluggo, just to name a few, for their hard work and dedication to this album. Nothing Personal is catchy and, though it is not their greatest work, everything you could ask for in a pop-punk record. I know I’ll be popping this record into my car radio and blasting it as I drive through the dirty streets of Los Angeles. What about you?

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