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Album Review: All Time Low - Don't Panic (2012 LP)

All Time Low's new album is a perfect example of the saying 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Since their break-out sophomore album So Wrong It's Right, they've managed to stick to their core pop-punk sound while at the same time keeping things fresh and, well, fun.

Don't Panic kicks off well, with “The Reckless And The Brave”, a high energy, anthemic-sounding pop-punk track with hints of dance-y, electronic music and a chorus replete with ringing guitars and extremely catchy lyrics. It's a good lead in to the rest of the album, which mixes these elements in greater or lesser measure for the rest of the album.

The major difference between Don't Panic and the rest of All Time Low's discography seems to the level of production. Like many albums this year – Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten, anybody? - it's clear that, for Don't Panic, All Time Low has been steadily getting more well-versed in the technical aspect of creating an album. Don't Panic – produced by Mike Green and singer Alex Gaskarth – is an extremely polished record. The tracks sound smooth and well-mixed, the vocals clear and well balanced with the instrumentals. The guitars are particularly well-done, while sticking essentially to the driving pop-punk style. To cut a long story short, it feels like a very well put together album. The songs are different enough to not blur into background noise, but hang together well as an album. There's a different through-line here, in both the lyrics and music, and the band are wearing their influences on their sleeves, without sounding like they're directly ripping anyone off. There are hints of Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory, and, of course, Blink 182, as well as the clear album and song title references to the late Douglas Adam's iconic sci-fi comedy book/movie/TV show/radio program Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

The album does slow up towards the end. The low-light for me is track seven, “Live And Let Go”. This song is over-long and a tad repetitive. It doesn't have the same spark as the tracks before it, and the songs after this have a similar feeling, although they mostly hold together pretty well. The stand-out track is “If These Sheets Were States”, a high-energy pop-punk love song with a great little intro riff, energetic drums, and insanely catchy lyrics. Stripped back single “For Baltimore” is pretty great, however, and it feels like a return to The Party Scene era All Time Low, sounding reminiscent of “Coffee Shop Soundtrack”, off of their 2006 EP Put Up Or Shut Up.

All Time Low aren't doing anything ground breaking or new on this album. Don't Panic still sounds like an All Time low album, but that's not such a bad thing. It's catchy, it's fun, it's summery and enjoyable. All Time Low craft really great pop-punk songs, and they've done it again on Don't Panic. So if you like All Time Low, or just pop-punk in general, you'll like this album. Don't Panic is a solid record, and a good entry to All Time Low's discography.

Review Score: 7.6/10