I will begin by stating my stance on ATL. I love “Dear Maria” and a couple of other songs I never learned the titles of, but genuinely regard them as pop-rock. Calling them pop-punk helps water down the genre, which bands have spent the better part of a decade doing. I’ve been pretty indifferent to most of their releases since those middle couple albums that helped them blow up. When they are on, they are on, and they scratch that very rare, very difficult to get to itch when I want to listen to something obnoxiously bubble gum pop.
So with that out of the way, let’s talk about this week’s release. It opens really weird. Like really weird. Drum machine, a low crooning vocal, and a very pop styled clean guitar sound. I know I have textures like this, I just can’t put my finger on it. It is moodier than an All American Rejects, but has a similar feel. After the chorus we get some acoustic drums, but in moments we are back to the low and out of the way instrumentation.
It’s boring me to tears. Nothing is happening. There is a mood being created, and I appreciate that, but the lyrics aren’t particularly smart and the vocal melody is kinda simple. But just before I’m completely checked out, an electric guitar creeps in, a big snare roll, and the vocal kicks up an octave, which is their normal range. They repeat the chorus, though much more amped up this time. Slide right back into chill, and the song is over.
I’m not upset about this piece of music. I can see why diehard fans would be. It takes a while getting to the sickly sweet pop music that everyone is so accustomed to, and since no one understands subtlety or tact anymore, they are quick to get upset. This will be their first release on Fueled By Ramen, and they are clearly making an effort to prove they aren’t going to write the same thing over and over again (which they pretty much have up to this point).
This song DOES point to a much more mature direction, which is a risky move. Pop and pop-punk kids like their flavors consistent. Remember when New Found Glory tried this in 2006 with Coming Home and the backlash was so violent that they rushed out another edition of From the Screen to Your Stereo, which I very much enjoyed. Admittedly, I was a member of the angry mob, but I was 16. That said, to this day I despise that album and it marked a great shift toward disinterest in the band. Maybe All Time Low will fare better.
If for some reason you are reading this BEFORE you hear the song, give it a minute. Let it build. Enjoy the meal they are trying to build instead of demanding dessert. If you still don’t like it, I don’t blame you. It’s not an amazing song. Not their worst work, either.