All Time Low / Dirty Work / Universal
It’s hard to describe an album that isn’t what it should be. Over the years, All Time Low have achieved what most young acts from their genre strive to do. They’ve made girls (and guys) love-drunk over a few contagious hooks. They’ve inspired novices to pen their own songs in the vein of The Party Scene. They’ve even attracted a major label, which in turn, has the Baltimore quartet furthering their study into the mechanisms of pop. As Nothing Personal took a shot at the group’s horizons, Dirty Work follows up with another, but misses, failing to find structure and an identifiable voice. Part of the problem is All Time Low seem like they don’t know where to fit in. Kissing the hand of dance with sugary guitar drives (“Time-Bomb”, “No Idea”), getting frisky with classic pop (“Just The Way I’m Not”) and taking cues from Weezer on how to incorporate more fun (“I Feel Like Dancin'”) all seem like great paths to take, but the results feel rushed.
The reason being – All Time Low has done it before. “That Girl” acts like repeat morning sickness with a flat rhythm that can barely hang on to Alex Gaskarth’s voice for more than three minutes. Despite regurgitating more polished, less candid material, Dirty Work does still flash a bit of grit. Adding piano and strings to a mild-tempered side of Gaskarth makes “Return The Favor” more of a stand-out than a scratched Brendon Urie ballad, while “Heroes” bewilders, making you choke on it’s ruthless pop punk attitude cut from those 2005 days. “Forget About It” shows a glimpse of this, but even it’s catchy chorus can’t save itself from walking into a unnecessary spoken-word rant. The ingredients making up Dirty Work give those – who can digest it – an album to cartwheel over all year long. The expansive ventures and quiet trek back to the starting line on the other hand, claim that career-changing album has yet to come.
Download: “Heroes”, “Forget About It”
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