In their latest release, The Other Side, Australian rockers Tonight Alive have managed to bring back a full installment of just about everything we love about pop-punk. Now I’ll be honest, I’m somewhat of a new ear to the band, given that I haven’t followed them much between their start back in 2008 to their debut full-length that was released in the states early last year. That being said, I was more than pleasantly surprised at the entirety of this album. For the first time in awhile, it’s nice to hear something that brings such a raw amount of substance to the table, proving just why this female-fronted group has obtained such a large following not only in their native country, but here in the United States as well.
The opening track, “The Ocean,” kicks everything off just right. There still isn’t an abundance of female vocalists in the pop-punk community (even if they may not be as much of a rarity as they once were), but Jenna McDougall’s vocals are a huge power force behind not only this song in particular, but behind this band in general. With just one listen, the other twelve tracks become something to anticipate just a little bit more.
“Lonely Girl,” for example, may in fact be my favorite off this album. Somewhere between a dominating beat and McDougall’s more-than-effective vocal performance, you’re thrown back to the era of pop-punk perfection. This is one thing that, in this track specifically; I don’t think I can stress enough. It’s hard to find not only a voice, but also a band, that can really stay strong in a genre that’s evolved so greatly over the years, perhaps even diminished. Here, Tonight Alive has really reminded listeners what it’s like to love pop punk.
The one bit I will touch on is a trap that, aside from a few real standouts, a lot of this album falls into (then again, a lot of music has the capability). Somewhere in the middle of this album, each track has a nasty habit of sounding outrageously similar. At times, it’s easy to lose track of when you started listening and when an entirely new track picks up. This is, in no sense of the word, a deal breaker for Tonight Alive, although it does detract from the potential that these first few tracks give off.
Though despite this, the title track, “The Other Side,” only continues to deliver, thriving with a mellow introduction and collection of verses. The relatable lyrics are ones that, once the chorus hits, automatically have you tapping along with the guitar and wishing you were back in that loving, high school relationship; then again, with lyrics like “We were talking late from 10/Staying up till 3 AM,” and “We would lie under sunsets/Without a single worry yet,” how can you not miss those days?
Despite claims that this band could, without a doubt, be named Australia’s own Paramore, I’d like to use The Other Side as a tactic of argument. There are definite similarities, however Tonight Alive has furthered prove to be all their own. As a whole, this album is by no means flawless; some tracks go overlooked, while others shine, however they’ve clearly built a name for themselves that stretches further than just their outstanding front woman.
Back when Tonight Alive appeared on “Punk Goes Pop 4,” with their rendition of “Little Lion Man,” I was again pleasantly surprised with how addictively creative their version was. Although I would love to see a little more of this creativity shine through on such a critical, sophomore release, there isn’t much else that I can critique on this album. McDougall’s honest, strong lyrics aid to lift this album into something that is not only intriguing for fans, but also entirely real and personal for anyone who listens. In this sense, I give credit where an immense amount of credit is due. It may not be perfect, but I’d surely encourage anyone to take at least a brief journey to “the other side” and listen.