Album Review: All Time Low – Wake Up, Sunshine

Baltimore quartet All Time Low have delivered the record we all needed.

On their new album Wake Up, Sunshine, the band have taken everything that was great about their previous records and combined it into one strong release. Being lifelong friends and bandmates, Alex, Jack, Zack and Rian brought together everything they learned over the years, locked themselves into a room and got writing.

“We really tapped into the chemistry between us,” affirms Alex. “Everybody brought something to the table. A lot of what you’re hearing came from those magic moments together.”

As the follow-up to Last Young Renegade, this album was brought to life in January of 2019 in Rian’s studio in Nashville joined by co-writer, producer, and collaborator Zakk Cervini. Without time constraints or restrictions, ideas flowed freely.

“It was just good friends hanging out in a room,” smiles Rian. “The vibe was comfortable. Without any real direction or goal, we allowed ideas to pour out. Studios can be intimidating. A bunch of strangers are listening for you to fuck up, so they can fix it. To have a studio like mine in an old converted house changed the vibe. Instead of recording in the vocal booth, Alex even did vocals in the control room. After day one, we knew we were on to something.”

The boys then carried this vibe over to a rental house in the Palm Desert during the summer. They moved in and split their time between writing, barbecuing, and swimming in the pool. “Rian and I would be inside working on a song, and Jack and Zack would be floating in the pool—then we’d switch off,” recalls Alex. “The creative juices were unrestricted. We had a lot of moments of clarity. We didn’t need to force anything. By the end of it, we had 25 songs. We whittled those down to 15. It’s got to be the longest we’ve ever gone, because we were so happy with everything.”

First single and opener Some Kind Of Disaster was one of the first tracks the band wrote in Nashville. I scribbled the words down in a notebook. I liked the vulnerability of confessing your sins. It’s an ode to the band, to the fanbase, and to starting over again. It’s an opening statement that references things I’ve said over the years as well. We wanted to write something big and anthemic and present All Time Low to the world again. This was it.” Alex says. And anthemic it is indeed, just the right mix of guitar riffs, bass and drums and a heavy dose of a catchy chorus.

“If I said I want your body, would you hold it against me? Seven in the morning while I listen to Britney.” Is another perfect of catchy choruses on Wake Up, Sunshine. As much across the whole record, here the band combine the synth-ier sound you could hear on Last Young Renegade alongside the pop-punk grunge ATL fans know and love

“It’s dedicated to the person who you want to stay in bed all day with,” Alex explains. “You picture the best moments of your best relationships. You had a cute night, look at the clock, and go, ‘Holy shit, it’s 6AM! Where did the night go?’.”

Much loved single Getaway Green is also featured on the record. The band first played the track at last year’s Slam Dunk festival and for months recordings of that performance was all fans had to listen to the song that unbeknownst gave them a first glimpse at what was to come.

The album’s title track Wake Up, Sunshine picks up an important lyrical theme for All Time Low. “It’s about self-validation, being okay with yourself, and not having to worry about being cool,” explains Alex. “We’re all seeking validation and will go to insane lengths to feel loved and wanted. In doing so, you create an unnecessary mental prison. It discusses the realization there are people out there who care for you. It felt like an awakening. It even applies to the story on Last Young Renegade. If you treat the last record like a dream, this is All Time Low waking up back in the real world. There are several little Easter Egg moments in the record,” he smiles.

Monsters then shows the completely other end of the band’s musical spectrum, and sees them experimenting with new sounds. It also includes a rap cameo by blackbear (Another cameo on the record comes via The Band CAMINO on Favorite Place), and holds a special significance for guitarist Jack, who’d released solo work via project WhoHurtYou last year.

“It’s one of the more emotional, dark cuts on the record,” explains Jack. “Being able to create such a special All Time Low song and have my DNA on that one in particular was unexplainable. That one just stood out. At the time, WhoHurtYou helped me feel more comfortable and gave me the confidence to contribute. I haven’t felt that way since the Dear Maria, Count Me In days.”

Glitter & Crimson is one of the slower tracks on Wake Up, Sunshine. Its moody drum intro and Alex Gaskarth’s soft vocals bring to life the idea of waking up with your loved one next to you and realising the world can be cruel but as long as you got each other everything will be fine.

To finish off the album, the sunny spirit of Basement Noise is one of the most personal songs on the album.  “It’s a really special one Alex and I wrote about the beginning of All Time Low,” grins Jack. “We would walk home from school to Rian’s parents’ basement and have our first practices. The memories are so real.”

And on top of the band’s memories, it also reminds fans of the memories they made with All Time Low over the years and the community it has created. The melody perfectly underlines that theme without taking anything away from the sentiment of the song.

Wake Up, Sunshine was well worth the wait and will sure turn into a longterm favourite in the All Time Low discography.

“This is an amalgam of all of our albums,” Alex explains. “It has pieces of every record we’ve ever done sprinkled throughout. It speaks volumes to who All Time Low has always been. The four of us know each other better than ever.”

“This is the record we all wanted to make,” Zack adds. “We wanted to show you how we feel. We also wanted to make songs that will shine in the live setting. The goal is for you to want to watch us jump around on stage and play them.”

“When you hear it, I hope you feel what we felt,” Rian concludes. “Hopefully, it’s like you’re in the room with us.”