All Time Low - 'Dirty Work' Album Review
Released- June 6th 2011
Released- June 6th 2011
I won’t lie: initially, I was mad. The early release of ‘I Feel Like Dancin’’ had left me with little hope for All Time Low’s upcoming album, as it appeared to so purposefully strive to appeal to the masses with its inclusion of cult-pop references of ‘Shorty’ and Ke$ha. I know that All Time Low have made their name on their sharp taste in hyper pop-rock and drinking references, but I still like to think that they’re not that mainstream. I mean, how many times have I heard someone reply to ‘All Time Low’ with ‘Oh, I love The Wanted’? So the new single preaching success from the top of Radio 1 was not something that made me tweet my pride so much as sigh at the potential loss of one of my favourite bands. Nonetheless, the creation of the single’s video being so reminiscent of the cocky antics of ‘Damned If I Do Ya’, I began to realise that All Time Low have not converted to the Other Side after all– they are still just a bunch of frequently drunk dudes who periodically crank out tunes worth dancing to. And that’s okay with me.
‘Dirty Work’ hails the typical All Time Low musical style we love to bust our speakers with, the tracks ‘Just The Way I’m Not’, ‘Time-Bomb’ and ‘Do You Want Me (Dead)?’ sparking my particular interest. The lyrics don’t aim to elicit deep philosophies, but are still clever enough to catch in your mind and mean enough to the band’s youthful following. With tales of ex-girlfriends and nights out, All Time Low hold no pretences of singing for the Older Generations, and do damn well at catering for those who simply want a band good enough to blare out the stereo for cathartic purposes. There seems to be some common ground with the lyrics in this album as lead singer and songwriter Alex Gaskarth focuses on the idea of being used and changing to suit a girl in ‘Just The Way I’m Not’, ‘Bad Enough For You’, ‘and Get Down On your Knees And Tell Me You Love Me’. This contrasts interestingly with the frat-boy concepts mostly explored in previous albums ‘Nothing Personal’ and ‘So Wrong It’s Right’, but nevertheless shows that the band is developing. Pre-release, much hype was built around the idea that the album was aiming to move away from the typical pop-sound, attempting to achieve a new mature feel; whilst any of the live shows would contradict this ‘maturity’ from the off, the overall essence of the tracks confirms that these twenty-somethings have perhaps now reached the emotional age of seventeen-and-a-half, making a change from the habitual sixteen-year-old aura. This isn’t a bad thing. It just means that under all the innuendo and ridiculous fun, the guys are also producing music that means something.
The heavy electric guitar-and-drum combo the band wield so well is present in almost every track, with ‘Under A Paper Moon’ reaching out for a different more alt-rock style than usual and ‘No Idea’ showing experimentation with the synth strings (apparently that’s cool at the moment). Habitually, All Time Low slow it down for a track - ‘A Daydream Away’ – for a bit of acoustic cute, but pick the pace back up for the rest of the album; even the acoustic version of ‘Time-Bomb’ shows a more fast-paced take on the traditional acoustic cover. All Time Low themselves have described it as the perfect summer album, “The songs are really loud and will get you to roll the windows down. It’s just a fun record all around”. Which is exactly what I have been doing this summer.
Whilst ‘Dirty Work’ hit the UK iTunes chart at No. 5 on release, it sank further down over the succeeding days for the surge of generic RnB ‘chart-toppers’ to restore life back to normal. But I suppose what I’ve come to realise is that whilst bands like All Time Low can continue to churn out good albums, the likelihood of our British charts ever really accepting them is relatively low. They are clearly impassioned, imperturbable (and arguably imbecilic) guys, - hence ‘Heroes’ and the self-explaining lyrics “We talk shit like it's a cross to bear” - and they enjoy it. You can hear it in their music and the endless innuendos that spew out of their mouths on tour, and there is no denying the energy they have for the success they’ve worked so hard for. This album won’t change the world, but at least it’ll get a few of us with taste to stand up and yell our support.
“Get dirty, do work”.