Album Review: Wake Up, Sunshine // All Time Low

All Time Low have made a comeback after two years with their eighth studio album, Wake Up, Sunshine. Released on 3 April 2020, it encompasses two decades of experience and artistry into an album that will be universally loved. 

This release was no doubt supposed to be the soundtrack to many summer getaways, but instead will have to rely on nostalgia. The listener yearns for the comforting embrace of musicians they haven’t listened to since their teenage years, no doubt stuck inside their former bedroom ‘Sleeping In’ and resolving never to take a summer day for granted ever again.

The collaboration with Blackbear on ‘Monsters’ runs with the throwback to brighter times; the R&B artist first shot to the Top 20 of the Billboard Chart in 2015 with ‘idfc’. ‘Monsters’ has a catchy melody and addictive chorus and immediately stands out for its pace and energy. 

Ninth track ‘Favourite Place’ featuring The Band CAMINO carries the home comforts of a childhood bedroom and ties nicely into the lyrics: “‘Cause I’m not too far / and you’re my favourite place”. Similarly, ‘Safe’ is a gentle, plucked guitar melody with intentions to round off a long day. 

The motif of noughties nostalgia is explored in different ways, but finds its place in each track. ‘Clumsy’ makes use of distorted, spacey verse vocals bridged by a bouncy, pop-punk chorus, before ‘Glitter & Crimson’ takes things downbeat with a gentle acoustic melody and muted drum beats. Headphone users will be able to hear guitar riffs and vocal harmonies that just wouldn’t sound the same on a speaker or through a computer.

‘January Gloom (Seasons, Pt.1)’ is an upbeat song with a laidback bridge, where frontman Alex Gaskarth’s vocals slide over the melody like butter. Its continuation, ‘Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt.2)’ has low bass guitar and upbeat drums, with the nostalgic feeling emerging in: “Sad summer days don’t fade away / don’t fade away from me no”.

‘Sleeping In’, ‘Getaway Green’ and ‘Melancholy Kaleidoscope’ are all fast-paced, bright tracks with loud drums and trademark rock guitar. You remember how it feels to have the wind in your hair and the sun on your face — a sensation many of us are no doubt pining for at the moment. 

‘Trouble Is’, throws you head first into an disorientating pattern of beats. The chorus is also the same, and doesn’t have a set rhythm. This matches the feeling of the lyrics, describing a breakup or parting: “Trouble is / I don’t wanna let go”.

The song flicks the switch to moody noir; title track ‘Wake Up, Sunshine’ continues to explore the darker side of the record, slowing things down with an interlude before the cut back to business as usual in ‘Safe’. ‘Interlude: Pretty Venom’ has magical verses and chorus, and is a slow paced, acoustic plucked guitar track. It is another close favourite, with reminders of adolescent classics such as Panic! At The Disco and Twenty One Pilots.

Lyrically, the bleaker moments provide space for reflection, and the band comes out of its moody spell urging the listener to “see how good you are.” The instruction to see the good in ourselves is a reminder we could all use right about now.

In a Forbes interview, Gaskarth said that the album hoped to “give fans a sense of comfort amid the turmoil, much like it did for the band members as they made it”. And, as the album finishes with ‘Basement Noise’, it certainly feels as if the band have achieved this aim. The track has an emotional edge to its melody, and the distorted vocals at the beginning give it a dreamy effect. It almost feels like you are lying down and looking up at stars – perhaps those glow in the dark ones you stuck to your childhood bedroom ceiling when you were younger. The lyrics reflect the band’s journey as musicians, the track a perfect end to a stellar comeback.

Wake Up, Sunshine was a fitting introduction for me to get back into the music I loved when I was younger. If you’re looking for a mood boost, I’d recommend you put on some headphones, sit back, and transport yourself back to your own ‘Favourite Place’…  

Words by Amelia Oprean

This article was originally published as part of The Indiependent’s May 2020 charity magazine, which is still on sale and is raising money for the British Lung Foundation. Find out more here.

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