With the release of their third album Nothing Personal, All Time Low simultaneously created their greatest work and sealed their fate moving forward. While this pop punk band only dabbled in synth-manufactured beats in the past, Nothing Personal saw All Time Low progress further into the type of catchy but ultimately regurgitated pop garbage that now litters the airwaves and is ultimately forgettable. This band once represented everything that was right with the pop punk genre: catchy choruses, enjoyable (if slightly effeminate) vocals, excitement, poignant lyrics about the joys of youth and most importantly, an emphasis on creating quality music in the process. This third album perfectly straddles the line between genuine rock music and adding synthesizers and other electronic-induced elements to make the songs even catchier. Unfortunately, this tight-rope act also set the wheels in motion for the appalling Dirty Work, the complete abandonment and betrayal of the lovable style of pop punk that characterized So Wrong, It’s Right and elevated the band to stardom in the first place. By itself, Nothing Personal represents the pinnacle of All Time Low’s artistry, lyricism and all-around entertainment. But as a chapter in their discography and band history, it represents a turning point for the worse.
“Weightless” immediately establishes itself as a pop punk classic with a spunky synth beat that gives way to Jack Barakat’s upbeat guitar riffs, Rian Dawson’s sprightly drumming and Alex Gaskarth’s effortlessly smooth vocals. Nothing Personal‘s opener is the perfect example of pop punk done right in All Time Low’s typical, addictive style, best displayed by Gaskarth’s enjoyably optimistic declarations of “Maybe it’s not my weekend / But it’s gonna be my year.” When all is said and done, “Weightless” leaves a memorable impression, kicking off Nothing Personal on a fantastic note and proving itself to be the best track on the album.
“Lost In Stereo” mixes things up a bit and actually branches out into dramatic territory, making for a unique and slightly heavier All Time Low experience that still manages to be fun and poppy at the same time. This band is known for their apparent talent in crafting memorable and catchy choruses and this one is no different, but “Lost In Stereo” is certainly more profound and serious endeavor that lends to the album’s variety and overall appeal (especially considering the melodic and engaging guitar riffs).
After a noticeably sub-par second half, “Therapy” picks things up again just in time for Nothing Personal‘s finale. Gone are the synthesizers and auto-tuning; instead, the album’s closer delivers an earnest and well-written ballad about dealing with pain and suffering on the road to recovery while remaining youthfully defiant in the face of “therapy” and the “experts.” Zach Merrick’s superb bass is overshadowed only by Gaskerth’s heartfelt cooing and Barakat’s calming guitar riff, making for an appropriately introspective end to the album.
Even though Nothing Personal continues the band’s progression into electronically produced beats and dumbed down lyrics, it represents All Time Low’s best work and surpasses So Wrong It’s Right. Kicking off with five terrific pop punk tracks certainly doesn’t hurt, as songs like the venomously-intentioned “Break Your Little Heart” and the downright catchy “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)” immediately win any listener over with typical pop punk charm. However, this album isn’t without its flaws, especially concerning the second half of the album, which considerably lags until the dynamic closer. One can clearly see signs of the impending decline of musicianship and song-writing at certain moments during that stretch. This is highlighted by the feel-good party song “Hello, Brooklyn,” featuring some of the band’s most brain dead lyrics and disappointingly simple musicianship, settling instead for catchy jingle status. Even the lyrically relevant “Walls” and heartfelt “Too Much” slightly falter because of their synth-infused composition and the questionable decision to employ auto-tune on Gaskarth’s already adequate vocals. This new mesh of old pop punk and electronically influenced will still be right up the alley of fans of Mayday Parade, Boys Like Girls, The Maine, Every Avenue, Forever The Sickest Kids, The Summer Set, We The Kings, The Academy Is…, Cartel and A Rocket To The Moon. However, the stellar first half of the album largely overshadows its overall flaws to make for All Time Low’s greatest work and another fantastic entry in the band’s once promising discography.
Final Score: 9/10
Rank: 1st (five total albums)
- Break Your Little Heart
- Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)
- Lost In Stereo
- Sick Little Games
- Hello, Brooklyn
- Too Much
- Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal
- A Party Song (The Walk Of Shame)