It would be a whole lot of fun to dub All Time Low’s new album Future Hearts an all-time high, but the US pop punks’ sixth studio effort limbos tipsily under a pretty high bar set by 2012’s Don’t Panic. Future Hearts dances all over the yard, without a clear sense of direction. But, hey, it’s still having a great time at the party.
The disc is jam-packed with the requisite toe-tapping pop-punk anthems that shimmer with sugary melodies, big, uplifting choruses, and lyrics laced with bittersweet nostalgia. Unsurprisingly, there are hits and there are misses, with Kicking & Screaming, Runaways and flagship single Something’s Gotta Give proving to be some of the shiniest trophies in the case.
Less luminous are the head-scratchingly mandolin-fuelled folk stylings of Missing You, which plays out like a college party-band cover of The Lumineers (and, let’s face it, which self-respecting college party-band would want to cover The Lumineers?). Elsewhere, the just-a-little-bit-whiney verses of Don’t You Go are a touch too reminiscent of Good Charlotte’s The Anthem.
This is punctuated by the fact that Joel Madden actually cameos on the very next song on the disc, Bail Me Out, which, alas, isn’t all that memorable either.
Maddens is not the disc’s only cameo, however, and a guest spot from Mark Hoppus yields some refreshing results. The Blink-182 stud lends his endearingly no-frills yet always recognisable vocals to the slow-burning ballad Tidal Waves. Hoppus’ soulful baritone combines with ATL frontman Alex Gaskarth’s explosive tenor and heartfelt delivery to create an earnest hymn that shoots straight for the feels.
But the album’s biggest high notes come when it invokes more of the chunky, from-the-guts songwriting that won back so many fans with Don’t Panic. The menacing chugs of Dancing With A Wolf, and the defiant chorus of runner-up single Kids In The Dark serve up some of the disc’s biggest “Fuck yeah!” moments.
The final lyric of the very last song on the album, titular track Old Scars/Future Hearts is a decisive, “Never look back”. While some fans might find themselves ignoring that advice and settling on Don’t Panic as their all-time fave for now, it’s good to hear the band are moving forward.
‘Future Hearts’ is out Friday, 3rd April via Hopeless/UNFD.