All Time Low – Nothing Personal
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Record Label: Hopeless
Ah, the summer of 2002. I remember 16 year-old me, cruising around the south side of Indianapolis with my still hot-off-the-machine drivers license listening to pop-punk staples such as New Found Glory, The Starting Line, and blink-182. My acne had just cleared up and my braces were due to be off any day now, and the feel-good tunes of “My Friends Over You” and “The Best of Me” paced the soundtrack to my summer. So it only makes sense that I’m reaching for the Clearasil while listening to Nothing Personal, the third, and soon to be breakthrough, album from All Time Low.
You see, when I listen to this album, it brings me back to that carefree summer. Maybe it’s the massive hooks of Nothing Personal, or the nature of the lyrics. With a “who’s who” list of producers behind the album (Matt Squire, Butch Walker, David Bendeth, S*A*M & Sluggo, and The-Dream), the twelve tracks all sound crisp, smooth, and dynamic. Opener “Weightless” packs a Tyson-sized punch, as the chorus soars behind Alex Gaskarth’s voice. Other pop-punk wish they could write hooks like the one on “Weightless,” and, as good as this hook is, it’s not the best one on this album. That would belong to the Butch Walker-produced first single “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t).” The song has Walker’s fingerprints all over it, as it is nearly impossible to get “oh-oh-oh/how was I supposed to know?” out of your head.
The aggressiveness is turned up a notch on “Break Your Little Heart” and “Lost In Stereo.” “Break Your Little Heart” is paced by Gaskarth and Jack Barakat’s guitar work, while “Lost in Stereo” channels a bit of Jimmy Eat World angst into the chorus. “Stella” has some giddy-up to it, as the song carries just a bit of campy-ness to it.
“Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal” is the best song New Found Glory never wrote , while “A Party Song (The Walk of Shame)” will be a fan favorite next time All Time Low goes on tour. “Therapy” closes Nothing Personal on a somber note. While it’s no “Remembering Sunday,” it could still be a hit in the mainstream, a la Plain White T’s.
While the flaws of the album and the handful of clunkers wouldn’t bother 16-year-old Drew, the 23-year-old version has a few issues. First off, “Hello, Brooklyn” is an awful song, as it is the only track I skip on the album. The track sounds like a b-side from The Academy Is… terrible Fast Times At Barrington High. Another miss is “Too Much,” which is everything the title implies. Produced by The-Dream, the track has good intentions, but executes poorly. Lyrically, Nothing Personal focuses on girls, relationships, alcohol, and good times with friends. Basically it is the three months of summer portrayed through the eyes of All Time Low.
When I blast Nothing Personal in my car and roll down the windows, I can’t help but think of the summer of 2002. It has what anyone wants in their pop-punk/rock – huge hooks, honest (if not cheesy) lyrics, and a fun attitude. All Time Low isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, so if you were a fan of their 2007 album, So Wrong, It’s Right, then you will have no troubles enjoying this, as Nothing Personal is a step-up. The rest of 2009 is shaping up to be All Time Low’s year, as they should follow in the footsteps of Fall Out Boy and Paramore and just explode. If you dislike them now, you’ll really hate them as the year moves on. As for me, I’m gonna put on an Atticus shirt and some Dickies and relive 2002.