Last Young Renegade, All Time Low’s Effortless Masterpeice
All Time Low started as just another band in “that” scene. You know the scene, mid-00’s bratty punksters heavily inspired by Green Day, Blink 182, and New Found Glory. Bands like We the Kings, The Maine, The Cab, etc. There was a seemingly endless list of arguably cute white kids playing up the non-macho facets of pop-punk. In many aspects, they are still part of that scene, and in others, they’ve risen to the rank of the Kings of that scene. Through the years, their tracks have gotten more and more introspective and Alex Gaskarth has only gotten better at spinning a tale with his words.
Last Young Renegade is the culmination of a decade worth of growth and the perfection of a craft. The conceptual change that started with Don’t Panic in 2012, had some harsh growing pains with Future Hearts, but has reached full actualization here on Renegade. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Gaskarth finds a way to tell his stories without burying the meaning in overly abstract metaphors. Typically metaphors are used to obscure the message, and other times its done to make the lyrics fit a melody. All Time Low are absolute masters at fitting blisteringly catchy melodies of over widely understandable lyrics. Many might read that a slight against the band, but I mean it as a pure compliment.
The structure of the words come together so effortlessly, it feels like the songs wrote themselves. Standouts like Life of the Party and Nice2KnoU, are both vintage All Time Low, while still exploring new territory. The former has this gem of a line, “Somewhere in between who I used to be and who I’ll be tomorrow…In a sea of strangers, I can’t find ME anymore.” It’s lines like this that bring color to what some would hear as standard fare in the genre. “I gotta say, it’s hard to be brave when you’re alone in the dark” from Nightmares, is a perfect example of Gaskarth bending a simple everyday sentence into one of the most memorable hooks in their entire catalog.
I applaud the band for choosing Dirty Laundry and Last Young Renegade as the lead singles from the album. Sure they are highlights, but they are also two of the strongest examples of the band trying something new. Had Dirty Laundry been written and released by Nothing Personal-era All Time Low (which lyrically it totally could’ve been), sonically it would be a fundamentally different track, with a different meaning and delivery. Oddly enough though, All Time Low doesn’t seem to have changed their core sound enough to turn off existing fans. Whatever is fueling ATL’s creativity right now is proving that sometimes good bands get better with age.
If you don’t know who All Time Low is, Renegade is a perfectly fine starting point, but you would be depriving yourself of some great music if you didn’t check out their older stuff. I know calling any album a masterpiece, is icky and it sets you up to take heat regardless of what album you give that crown, but when put it in the context of their career, their peers, their fans, their experience and the palpable listenability of Last Young Renegade, All Time Low has created nothing short of their own personal masterpeice.
Verdict: You will not find a better collection of All Time Low tracks…period.