Album Review: All Time Low – Nothing Personal

There are reviews done for the love, and then there are reviews written because someone has to carry the shovel behind the elephant. When you name your band All Time Low and play pop punk, you most likely represent the elephant. I’m putting on my elbow length gloves and heading for the tool shed as we speak…

Fifteen seconds into Nothing Personal, it’s clear Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost aren’t writing the lyrics: “I wanna feel weightless, and that should be enough, but I’m stuck in a fucking rut.” Its wondrous “wings” and “soaring” aren’t also up for discussion. Using the word “fuck” in the first verse of the first song so the kiddies’ll listen: check. (But only say it once!) Add a drum machine and muted picking before the guitars come in. Don’t forget to add a couple of pick slides down the neck, and make sure to sing through your nose. Yes, yes, and yes. With lines like “Maybe it’s not my weekend, but it’s gonna be my year,” where do you start? These nuggets of wisdom are for the crowd pissed that their mom won’t give them the keys to the Land Rover for the show. Lame, mom! Nothing Personal includes more “Oh’s” than a bowl of Cheerio’s and more “Uh’s” than a pinup photo shoot. When writer’s block hits All Time Low they grunt and moan and call it lyrics.

Just running down the track list, we get pearls like “Damned if I Do Ya (Damned if I Don’t)”, “Break Your Little Heart”, “Keep the Change, You Filthy Animal”, and “A Party Song (The Walk of Shame)”. Calling copulation “doing ya” screams class. “What should we call our song about breaking a heart?” No need to be creative. On “Keep the Change, You Filthy Animal”, we get the literate allusion to Macauley Culkin’s magnum opus – and are never told exactly why that’s relevant to a song about sabotaging a relationship. And “Party Song”, with the ridiculous aside “(The Walk of Shame)”, extols the importance of one night stands. That All Time Low writes anything that doesn’t involve their penises deserves a round of applause.

If All Time Low had made Nothing Personal in 1994 when Dookie broke pop punk to the masses, it would be worth noting, but after hundreds of interchangeable pop punk albums since, does 2009 really need one more? Why am I even asking this question? The answer is no! Here’s a pocketful of advice for guitarists: if the extent of your talent is power chords and a major scale or two, you’d be well served to take notes in calculus and finish your homework. Unless of course, you have your sights set on Hopeless Records which is clearly okay with putting out any album about banging teenage girls and getting drunk. (High school is way complicated and stuff!) All Time Low graduated high school in 2006, and that makes Nothing Personal creepy. You wonder about their web browser history. Maybe they’re talking about shallow, meaningless sex with college girls. That raises the bar. I guess that’s kind of punk rock – if Gene Simmons hadn’t been doing that since ’72.

Nothing Personal represents — I avoided a pun as long as possible — an all time low for the band. So Wrong, It’s Right and The Party Scene weren’t brain surgery but at least they kept the lack of talent quiet. Nothing Personal showcases the void. The slick veneer of Nothing Personal can’t hide the lack of substance. Oh wait, is that a member of All Time Low giving the double-flick salute in promotional material? You so hard. Look we’ve got a regular Johnny Cash on our hands. My bad.

NoFx, MxPx, Propaghandi, and a stable of pop punk standbys continue to release records worth listening to for pop punk aficionados. Innovation isn’t an issue in this line of work (which is fine by me). Credibility is. The subject matter undertaken by these bands (particularly MxPx) has changed over the years. Yeah, women are still “chicks”, but politics and the like are on the table now – and at least NoFx knows how to tell a joke.

The unspoken golden rule of music consumption is that you aren’t responsible for what you listen to as a minor; however, when you turn legal, you better have enough sense to eBay that junk. Nothing Personal (judging by the comments on All Time Low’s Pure Volume page) will be protected under the aforementioned bylaw for almost everyone that listens to it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth warning people off of All Time Low. Do you stand by and watch a toddler grab a hot poker from the fire? Okay, maybe you do. But at least you have the decency to bandage the hand afterward. Nothing personal, All Time Low, but your album sucks.

Check Out:

“Break Your Little Heart”

Nothing Personal


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