All Time Low - Dirty Work (ALBUM REVIEW)

Click READ MORE to check out my review of the new All Time Low album Dirty Work. Dirty Work is out now!

I have to start this off with a couple very concrete statements. All Time Low’s Dirty Work is not their best album. It is definitely not better than Nothing Personal. With that being said the band’s first major label album isn’t as bad as internet tastemakers and harsh critics would like you to believe. It is true the single is probably the worst single of their career (it basically finds co-writer Rivers Cuomo in auto-pilot mode or at least picking a reject from the Raditude pile), but it is a catchy tune with a decent video.

Overall, you get a little less punk, a little more pop, and that causes some mixed emotions when listening to the album. Compared to peers like We The King’s Smile Kid album which fell terribly short of my expectations I feel like this album doesn’t live up to expectations but it didn’t let me down quite as bad as that album. The new All Time Low has quite a few songs that are fine summer pop/punk/rock songs. Like We The King’s Smile Kid though it’s a weaker follow-up to a well received album. Oddly enough both the We The Kings album and this album has terrible promotional photo artwork. After decent artwork for all of their albums All Time Low approved the ultra lazy promotional photo as an album cover (something I’m seeing a lot more lately. My guess is more labels want to make sure to show possible purchasers the band to hopefully draw them in). Admittedly it does go with the theme of the booklet and I do think it looks slightly better than the We The Kings album cover, but it could have been a lot better.

I think the album has its flaws. The flow of the album is weird at times. There are a couple tracks that would be better left on the cutting room floor. Some of the big money production and bells and whistles could be better left off as well. The raw production promised by the band for months doesn’t seem to be apparent on the album much at all. In fact I would say this sounds more polished than Nothing Personal. That being said I think the thing that bothers most people is that the album doesn’t ultimately live up to what listeners (or at least I) thought the band might be. That being one of the better pop/punk bands that is a little more pop than punk. With this album you get a band teetering back and forth from alternative rock, pop/punk, pop/rock, and just pop. At times the band sounds Rooney-esque (see “That Girl”), at times they sound Fall Out Boy-esque (“Forget About It”), and at times they sound like All Time Low (“Heroes”). That’s another confusing part of the album it struggles to find its identity. Maybe it’s the major label input or maybe it’s the band themselves wanting to take chances and experiment with sounds that find the album in a bit of an identity crisis at times. At times it works and other times it feels out of place.

I almost don’t feel like one song on this album is stronger than any one song off Nothing Personal, but “Heroes” might come close. It does have 6-8 overall fun pop/rock songs. The album feels a little top stacked with the exception of “Heroes” closing the album and perhaps being the strongest track on the album. If you feel let down while listening to the album this is the one song you will like. It reminds me of a mix between All Time Low and Fall Out Boy. The first half features some of the best songs, truthfully “I Feel Like Dancin’” feels like it fits okay in the first half of the album. Songs like “Do You Want Me (Dead),” “Forget About It,” and “Guts” are some of the standout songs in the top half of the album. The talking parts near the end of “Forget About It” could have been left off but the overall song is fairly good. “Just The Way I’m Not” is the anthem song of the album and I like the song pretty well and its catchy. The second half of the album has some experimental tracks that slow down the flow of the album. “Daydream Away” feels out of place in the sequencing of the album and may be one of my least favorites on the album. The more I listen to it the standout tracks get better and the tracks I dislike seem to drive me a little crazier.

Like I stated earlier the album has a bunch of fun summer songs, as well as some weird songs (or at least songs you wouldn’t expect from the band), and a couple duds. I’m not a harsh critic of All Time Low as I think Nothing Personal was a pretty good album and I still regularly listen to it. This album lacks the punch of Nothing Personal. I wouldn’t say it’s a great follow-up to that album but I don’t think it’s as terrible as some critics say. I really enjoy the way some of the guitar was recorded and mixed on the album. A big portion of this album seems focused and well executed for the sound. I also think I’ll listen to certain songs off this album quite a bit this summer…it just won’t be as fun of a listening session as Nothing Personal, but it has a lot of elements I like. I think anyone who enjoyed All Time Low before this album can at least find a couple on this one they enjoy. However, if you are expecting another album like Nothing Personal or So Wrong, It’s Right you won’t find that here. I really have to be honest though I like a lot of this album.

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