Sometimes you're not really looking for any surprises. Sometimes you just need an album that's fun - something you can turn on and sing to. But sometimes an album takes it a bit farther. That's what All Time Low's album Don't Panic accomplishes so well. Recently reissued and featuring four new songs, Don't Panic: It's Longer Now is a real treat.
It captures both pop and punk genres in a nutshell and reaffirms guitarist Alex Gaskarth as one of the genre's modern champions. The band as a whole really steps up its game, both lyrically and musically.
The first three tracks on the album will just kick you right in the ass, especially track one, “The Reckless and the Brave.” They're hooky, fun and wonderfully written songs. As an added bonus, the song “Backseat Serenade” features awesome background vocals from recent “The Voice” winner Cassadee Pope. This is perhaps the strongest part, but by no means the end, of a great album.
“If These Sheets Were States” is the next standout. The lyrics are the highlight, but the melody is great too, and the whole song just works. “So Long, Soldier” is a fast-paced track featuring guest vocals from Anthony Raneri of Bayside. The song really showcases the more punk side of All Time Low and proves it has the chops to keep up with the best in the business.
After the track “The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver,” which is another standout song with great vocals and lyrics, the album meanders and drags a bit. This isn't to say the songs are bad in any way; the next few tracks just lack focus.
The band goes right back at it with “For Baltimore.” This track is one of my favorites from the album because it captures both the fun and the ordinary beauty of a relationship. Usually bands focus on one aspect or the other, but to me, this song truly encapsulates both sides.
The last couple of tracks also suffer from the “eh” factor, but again, they are almost there. Just a little bit more tweaking and these songs could have finished the album strongly.
Don't Panic: It's Longer Now proves that pop punk hasn't bitten the dust yet. There's a whole new generation of young bands ready to take over and continue the legacy set forth by their predecessors.
In a way, this album almost seems like a tribute to bands like Fall Out Boy. Coincidentally, Fall Out Boy member Patrick Stump actually contributed writing to the album. The album is clever, catchy and fun to listen to. It's not quite perfect, but it's a damn good pop punk record, and a damn good record in general.