All Time Low are almost like the Marmite of the pop-punk scene. You either love them or you hate them, there is no real middle ground when it comes to this band. Their fourth studio full-length, ‘Dirty Work’, does nothing to aid this reputation. For anyone who loves the band, this is sure to strengthen their already established infatuation. However, if you hate the band, there’s plenty of ammunition here to set that hate in stone.
Over the course of their relatively short career, All Time Low have progressively moved further and further away from actual instrumentation, and closer to their washed-up synthetic sound. Whilst they may have once been considered actual musicians, nowadays they would be best described as a boy band that occasionally decide to play instruments.
Opening song ‘Do You Want Me (Dead?)’ sounds as though it has been plugged straight out of the power pop manual, as Alex Gaskarth‘s saccharine vocals dribble through the layers of synthesizer. First single ‘I Feel Like Dancin” is the first moment of true atrocity on this album, other songs that fit into this category include ‘Under A Paper Moon’ and ‘That Girl’. Somebody needs to tell Gaskarth that using words like “bitch”, “my junk” and “fuck” does not make you cool, it simply makes you juvenile, and this is exactly what ‘Dirty Work’ comes across as. It comes across not as an album, but more as a commercial tool for success. It is ironic that during ‘Forget About It’ the band sings about someone making Gaskarth want to tear his hair out, when throughout the entirety of the 41 minutes that ‘Dirty Work’ is on, that’s all I can think about doing myself.
Whoever told Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth that every riff on an album had to sound exactly the same needs to reconsider their life. Whenever the band shy away from computer generated sounds on songs like ‘Just The Way I’m Not’ and ‘Heroes’, the riffs always seem to sound similar and make it hard to distinguish between songs. As per usual with any pop-punk release, there is the standard acoustic ‘ballad’ that will make the girls cry and/or drop their pants. ‘Daydream Away’ is the song on this album that goes by that rule, and frankly it is truly terrible. The dull instrumentation is punctuated with terrible lyrics and Gaskarth‘s whiney voice, so based upon the judgements of die-hard fans, this will be a truly inspirational song. It may be possible that the “douchebag guys” that Gaskarth refers to, may actually be the same.
Even by All Time Low or even the genre’s standards, ‘Dirty Work’ is a bad album of work. For those who are not fans of the band, listening to the album could easily be referred to as ear rape. Trust me on this one, curiosity killed the cat, and in this case it could potentially kill you. Not that it is difficult to listen to, as the squeaky clean production makes sure of this, but the album pretty much stands for everything that is wrong with the state of modern music, and if this is the future of “rock” or “punk” music then I for one hope something comes along to change this fact, and fast.
Written by Oliver Thompson