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Music is still coming out at least for the time being, so listeners at home need not worry. Veteran pop-punkers All Time Low made sure of that by putting out their eighth full-length LP Wake Up, Sunshine on schedule despite recent events that have postponed everything else. Borne out of the vibes of the Coachella Valley on a writing and recording retreat, ATR’s latest is considered a return-to-form for the band and an eagerly anticipated release after 3 years out of the saddle.
One of the primary strengths of Wake Up, Sunshine is effortlessly balancing off and blending the band’s 2000s mall-punk beginnings with the radio pop sensibilities of the succeeding decade; “Some Kind Of Disaster” exhibiting the latter while the quintessentially aughts-y “Sleeping In” is a nostalgic show of the former. “Getaway Green” comes closer to blending the two while “Melancholy Kaleidoscope” exemplifies the sound of pop-punk 2020 style; “Trouble Is” follows in close tow as a unique and updated sample for the next ten years.
Then comes the title-sake: “Wake Up, Sunshine” is a driving, motivating rock number dedicated to personal esteem and empowerment, “Monsters” then crosses over into with contemporary hip-hop with a verse from black bear to round out the detour. “Pretty Venom” toys with indie elements in between the light acoustic guitar and distorted drums, leading into further sonic expansion with “Favorite Place” featuring The Band CAMINO. “Safe” continues the push forward into defining the sound of ATR and all those like them for the future, a long way removed from the “emo” stereotype them and many alumni of the old scene have sought wholeheartedly to shake themselves free of.
“January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” dials the clock back a bit, exploiting well-worn chord progressions and choral lines from ye olden days of 15 years ago. “Clumsy” follows closer to the album line, as does “Glitter & Crimson” albeit on a mellower and more typical note. “Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2)” follows up on “January Gloom” thematically while circling back musically to “Getaway Green”, leading to the ender “Basement Noise.” Set to a grainy breakbeat and appropriately restrained, “Basement Noise” recounts the band’s humble beginnings and rounds out the album on a fitting note: Familiar enough to identify it as All Time Low, progressive enough to give it a new edge, and retrospective enough to be relatable and personal to whoever may listen.
Indeed, All Time Low has put out a strong effort with Wake Up, Sunshine that covers the two most crucial bases: Staying connected to their roots and setting the tone for the future. There are times when the record falls back into predictability, though this can be excused in the midst of a transitional shift. It’s a satisfying record and tentatively a new precedent for the genre; and if puns must be put to use, it’s not necessarily an all-time low or high, but it just works.
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Matt Derraugh is a musician and freelance writer based out of Winnipeg, Canada. He is a lifelong drummer and avid fan of music in general and seeks to fulfill his passion for the art by writing on it as well as playing it with a series of local bands across various genres.